Home sales in the Texas cities of Austin and Houston varied greatly in September, as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita fueled a huge evacuation along the state’s Gulf Coast.

The first impact from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were reflected in Houston’s September real estate sales, according to statistics released by the Houston Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service. Total sales for single-family homes in Houston decreased by 0.8 percent to 4,910 in September, down from last year’s 4,950. This is the first year-over-year monthly decrease in single-family homes sales in 19 months.

“Obviously, the evacuation of Houston and surrounding areas due to Hurricane Rita negatively impacted September real estate sales figures, pushing quite a few closings into October, but we continue to be on course to break last year’s housing sales record,” said Toni C. Nelson, HAR Chair and Division Vice President for Coldwell Banker United, Realtors. “It will be interesting to see October’s home sales since one to two weeks of activity was lost in September, but it should be noted that this is an anomaly purely due to the hurricane and not necessarily a sign of a weakening real estate market.”

The overall median price of single-family homes in Houston reached a record $145,000 in September, which was an increase of 7.5 percent compared to the prior year. The median is a typical market price where half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less than that figure.

For the month of September, existing single-family home sales totaled 4,316, which was a 2 percent increase from September 2004, countering the decrease in new-home sales through the MLS that drove the overall sales figure lower. The median sales price for existing homes in the Houston area was $140,000, an increase of 9.4 percent compared to the same period last year.

The overall median price in the townhouse/condo segment in Houston rose slightly by 1 percent, from $107,450 in September 2004 to $108,500 last month.

Additionally, the number of townhouses and condos that sold in September reversed last month’s trend and increased this month compared to last year’s sales, with 541 units being sold last month, versus 536 properties in September 2004.

In Austin, home sales climbed significantly in September from a year ago, according to the latest Austin Board of Realtors report.

Single-family home sales totaled 2,391 last month, a 34 percent increase from September 2004.

At $162,000, the median price at which these Austin-area properties sold remained relatively unchanged.

While sales increased, the number of new and active single-family listings on the market notably decreased. At 2,630, the number of new listings dropped 19 percent from 2004, while active listings fell 18 percent to 7,835. These properties sat for 4 percent less time than they did one year ago, averaging 68 days on the market.

Single-family units were not the only property type to experience a sales boom. Austin’s townhouse/condominium sales were up 61 percent in September, totaling 220.


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