2016 Good Year to Buy, Sell a Home, says Real Estate Center Chief Economist

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (Real Estate Center) The Texas housing market has been going strong the last few years. While it’s likely to cool off some this year, the chief economist for the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University said now is still a good time to buy or sell a home. Low interest rates make it an especially appealing time to be a buyer, said Dr. Jim Gaines. The biggest challenge is the lack of selection.

“The only reason that it might not be a good year is some buyers may have a hard time finding what they want,” Gaines said. “We still have a shortage of existing inventory being listed for sale.” Last month, Texas had a 3.1-month housing inventory. The Center considers 6.5 months a balanced market.

“You’ll have to work very closely with an agent or someone who is close to the market on a day-to-day basis, because in many of our markets properties are being grabbed up almost as soon as they come up for sale,” Gaines said, “often on the same day and with multiple offers.” In other words, once you find a home you like, be prepared to act quickly. This is good news for sellers, who will probably have no trouble getting the price they want — at least for the first half of the year. “I think we’re going to see a slowdown in the housing market this year, but the market’s not going to stall,” Gaines said.

The median price for a home in Texas last month was $201,900, up $8,200 from the previous month and up $9,900 from a year ago. “The past four years we’ve had this tremendous imbalance between the demand for housing and the supply being offered for sale. What I think will happen is the demand is going to slow down, and builders will keep supplying because they’ll find there’s still a very good market for new homes. People will decide now’s a good time to buy or sell, maybe before interest rates go up. The market will end up more balanced than it’s been. “Buyers will start finding that home prices won’t go up as fast and maybe some bargains will come out there.”

By Bryan Pope, Associate Editor, Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University
January 27, 2016/Release No. 07-0116