After waiting for the right economic conditions, high-end homebuyers left a noticeable mark in February.
While most of Montgomery County experienced relatively modest gains in the sale of existing single-family homes – both on monthly and year-to-date comparisons – the Lake Conroe area was noteworthy for its double-digit success.
According to the data released recently by the Houston Association of Realtors, the demand for a second home has grown during the first two months of this year.
Sales increased a healthy 24.6 percent (147 vs. 118). Meanwhile, Lake Conroe sales of 89 homes in February were 21.9 percent ahead compared to the 73 homes sold in February of 2010.
But it wasn’t just the number of transactions that set apart the homes around the lake. It was the amount of the transactions.
The total dollar volume of year-to-date sales of $37.277 million is 47.5 percent ahead of 2010 ($25.273 million). The percentage increases to nearly 51 when comparing the total volume of sales last month ($21.113 million) to February 2010 ($13.992 million.
Ken Brand, manager of Prudential Gary Greene Realty offices in The Woodlands, said the artificially stimulated sales market of a year ago has been replaced by homebuyers who, after sitting on the fence for much of the year, have decided the time is right to purchase a more expensive home.
“Interest rates have gone from 4-1/2 to 5 percent in the last 60-90 days,” he said. “Five (percent) is a historical rate, and the increase prompted homebuyers in that high end to question, ‘Is this the right time?’
“There are more buyers at the high end than at this time last year, and they’re active.”
Nor does Brand expect another swoon in the late spring and early summer of 2010, pointing to the absence of the federal tax credits. The seasonable trend is a spike in the number of web views, and home visits.
“Sales are racking positively upward,” he said.
Combined, those factors result in an increase of consumer confidence, said Beth Ferester, of Coldwell Banker in The Woodlands.
“It’s more of a buyer’s market,” she said, “but the higher homes with the more expensive upgrades are selling first.”
What people are going to realize is that 2010 was one of the strongest years, said Diane Flicker, manager at Keller Williams in The Woodlands.
“It looks like this year could turn out the same,” she said. Lake Conroe wasn’t the only area in the county that enjoyed an increase in home values. In Southwest Montgomery County – which includes The Woodlands and the Magnolia area – existing home sales are 3 percent ahead of 2010’s year-to-date (624 to 606). On a month-to-month comparison, February sales of 346 are running 1.5 percent ahead of a year ago (341).
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