The number of active listings for existing homes in Central Texas grew to 9,400 in February, the highest level recorded for that month, according to MLS statistics reviewed by the Austin Board of Realtors. The large inventory, coupled with a 13 percent increase in the time on the market for a typical home, to an average 77 days on the market, suggests a strengthening buyer’s market in the region.


The average price for a single-family home increased 2 percent since February 2003, the Austin board reported, from $196,000 to $198,000, while the median price for a single-family home dropped to $150,500 in February, which is about $10,000 less than the median price in February 2002. The Austin Board of Realtors represents about 5,500 Realtors in Central Texas.


The Dallas-Fort Worth area has seen a similar trend toward a stronger buyer’s market, as the price of existing homes in the area dropped about 2 percent in the first quarter of 2004 compared with the first quarter of 2003, according to a report by The Dallas Morning News. Also, inventory has increased about 8 percent, and at the end of the first quarter there was an eight-month supply of existing homes on the market. The median price of North Texas-area homes dropped from $145,000 in the summer to about $134,000 in March.


Meanwhile, the El Paso Times reported that the El Paso area had the highest percentage increase in housing starts in the state in 2003 and the fifth largest increase in the nation. El Paso had about 4,750 housing starts in 2003, which is about 40 percent more than the 3,390 housing starts recorded in 2002. reported this month that March foreclosure volume in Texas ranked among the highest in the nation. There were 6,132 active and pending foreclosure properties in Texas in March, and 1,896 new foreclosures in that state.


Also, a study completed last year found that homeowner’s insurance premiums in Texas are the highest in the nation.


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