Houston Leads South In Existing Home Price Gains

According to a survey by the Associated Press and Re/Max, existing home sales in Houston were up 34 percent in November, compared to November of last year.

And the median home price — the point at which half of all homes sell for more, half for less — rose nearly 9 percent to $150,000.ξ That's the largest percentage price gain among southern cities.

Vicki Fullerton is the outgoing chair of the Houston Association of Realtors.ξ She believes December's sales figures, which will come out in the middle of next month, will be even better.

"Because the Ike Effect really took a whole quarter of 2008 to rebound.ξ And I think our numbers indicate we're gonna have a strong December and into January."

Fullerton says the extension of federal tax credits for first-time buyers, and expanding those credits to cover repeat owners is one of the key factors in the rise in home sales.

"Particularly that $6,500 tax credit for the move-up or move-down buyer that's been in their home for five of the last eight years is gonna show, hopefully, some growth in those 'move-up' buyers."

Other experts say it's anyone's guess whether the double-digit growth in home sales can be sustained once the tax credits expire at the end of April.ξ However, they also say Houston's solid employment base and relatively steady economy will continue to help the housing market.

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