In what has become a recurring theme, Houston home sales were down in August, the 17th consecutive month of declining sales.
The latest report from the Houston Association of Realtors shows sales were off 3.8% last month, the smallest decline since May 2022. Just under 8,000 units sold across the city in August, down from around 8,300 last August.
Experts say Houston is still firmly a buyer's market, the opposite of what it was a few years ago during the pandemic, when homes often had multiple offers and sold within days for thousands of dollars above the asking price.
"People are getting a little bit lower than list price right now, or at list price when not even a year ago, people were bidding $20,000, $30,000, $50,000 over asking price," HAR Chair-elect Thomas Mouton said.
MORE: HAR Chair Cathy Treviño discusses the housing market on Houston Matters
Unique financial headwinds for both buyers and sellers are still hindering the local housing market. Mortgage rates around 7%, continued limited inventory and relatively high home prices are combining to make many buyers think twice before they commit to a new home.
Another factor in the prolonged slowdown is what some experts are calling "golden handcuffs" on homeowners who simply can't afford to sell right now. They took advantage of historically low mortgage rates a few years ago, sometimes well below 3%, and can't rationalize selling their homes and buying at a much higher rate.
But for Mouton, it's never a bad time to buy.
"There's a saying out there, when is the best time to buy a home? And the answer was five years ago," he said. "I think those that don't buy today will look back five years from now and regret not buying, although they think the rates are high right now."
Home prices remained steady in August, with the average in Houston at just over $420,000, up 2.5%. The median price was flat at $354,000.
Inventory also ticked up, a good sign for market health. HAR says there are now 3.3 months-worth of housing supply in Houston, the most since May of 2020. Inventory has been a big problem over the past few years and a four-to-six-month supply is considered a balanced market.
Houston's luxury housing market was the bright spot in the latest report, the only sector to see a gain last month. Sales of homes above $1 million were up 3.7% in August. Townhome and condo sales continued to suffer, falling 19% in August, the 15th consecutive month of decline.