The Houston housing market continued to thrive in December, as sales improved and the median single-family home price set a record, the Houston Association of Realtors reported.

The overall median price of single-family homes reached an all-time high of $147,000 in December, which was an increase of 6.5 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.

Total property sales, which includes single-family homes, townhomes, multifamily homes, country homes, high-rise properties and lots listed on the MLS, totaled 6,809 in December, which was a 7 percent increase over December 2004.

Full-year 2005 total property sales reached 78,610, which was an increase of 8.9 percent over the same period in 2004.

Additionally, total sales for single-family homes in Houston increased by 5.6 percent to 5,557 in December, up from last year’s 5,264. For the full-year 2005, 64,821 single-family homes sold, which was an 8.7 percent increase over the 72,184 homes sold during 2004.

“While we did not know what ultimate impact the hurricanes would have on the local real estate market, the statistics seem to reflect that many of the people who sought shelter in and around Houston have decided to stay,” said Lorraine Abercrombie, HAR chair and marketing & project manager for Greenwood King Properties. “Luckily, our market had the available supply of homes for sale and lease to absorb the number of people who needed a place to live.”

The number of available homes (active listings) at the end of December was 39,550 properties, which was decrease of 0.5 percent versus last December and down 6.4 percent from the previous month, as the market continues to tighten, probably as a result of the hurricanes. The months inventory of single-family homes for December also continued its downward trend to 5.1 months, which is the lowest point since May 2002, signaling more of a seller’s market and also showing that demand is more than keeping up with the available supply of homes.

For the month of December 2005, existing single-family home sales totaled 4,671, which was a 7.8 percent increase from December 2004. The median sales price for existing homes in the Houston area was $139,500, an increase of 7.4 percent compared to the same period last year.

The number of townhouses and condos that sold in December increased this month compared to last year’s sales, with 650 units being sold last month, versus 621 properties in December 2004. For full-year 2005, 6,988 townhouse/condos sold, which was a 2.7 percent increase compared to the 6,801 units sold during the same period of 2004.

The overall median price in the townhouse/condo segment in Houston rose by 2.7 percent, from $118,750 in December 2004 to $122,000 last month.

The Multiple Listing Service of the Houston Association of Realtors includes residential properties and new homes listed by 22,000 Realtors throughout Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties, as well as parts of Brazoria, Galveston, Waller and Wharton counties.

***

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