Here's the bad news first: December home sales were down four percent compared to December of 2009. It's the sixth straight month of year-over-year declines in Houston.
But here's the good news: the decline wasn't nearly as bad as previous months, a sign the local market is starting to recover. Carlos Bujosa is the new chairman of the Houston Association of Realtors. He says there are several reasons for optimism.
"One of them is that holiday sales were much higher than expected. And secondly, the extension of the tax cuts is
going to keep more money in the hands of the consumer, which is going to allow them to be able to make a home
purchase if they would like to do so."
2010 ended with a 5.7 percent drop in home sales in Houston. Total dollar volume fell 1.2 percent, but the average sales price of a home rose 4-percent in 2010. Bujosa says consumers are still cautious despite the brighter outlook.
"We've seen lately a spike in the number of rentals. I think on the order of over 25-percent for both single family homes and town houses and condominiums."
Sales of homes priced between $150,000 and $250,000 actually rose last month by 3.3-percent, the first increase in that segment since May of last year.