‘Serious seller’s market’ in Denton County

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Al Key/DRC file photo
Builders are working to keep up with demand for homes as the housing market in Denton County booms. Here, crews work on a home in March in The Preserve at Pecan Creek in Shady Shores.

Agents: Low inventory driving up home prices

The housing market in Denton County is booming as builders work to keep up with demand and single-family homes sell quickly.

The inventory of available homes is at an historic low and prices are still high in the Denton County real estate market, making it the optimal time to sell a house, local real estate agents said.

According to data for the county from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, the number of months of inventory for November was down to 1.9 — a record low for the statistic, which estimates how long it would take to sell all available properties. Since the center began tracking Denton County data in 1998, the figure has never fallen below 2.

“There is an all-time low of homes on the market, so this is what they call a serious seller’s market right now. It is all about the sellers,” said Brad McKissack, owner of McKissack Realty Group in Denton.

The market began picking up in 2012, McKissack said. November 2012 was the first time for the number of months of inventory to fall below 3, and it has continued to stay below 3 since then.

The North Texas real estate market has always been strong, but there has been noticeably strong improvement since 2011, said real estate agent Karen Walls, president of the Greater Denton/Wise County Association of Realtors.

“It seems people have been on the fence about putting property on the market, so we’ve had a lower inventory, which means the prices have risen,” she said. “Prices are going up, and as long as a seller gets their property in good condition to sell, there are people out there ready to buy.”

Now, with the low inventory, demand has driven prices up and increased competition to buy a house. While the average price of Denton County homes for sale fluctuated from July to November, the average price ranged from $214,900 to $234,200. Over the same period last year, the average price ranged from $191,900 to $214,600, according to data from the Real Estate Center.

This is making it a hard market for first-time home buyers with smaller budgets, said Bernie Kay Brown of Jimmy Brown Realtors.

“Anything under $135,000 is extremely scarce, so a first-time home buyer is going to have difficulty finding something,” Brown said. “The homes under $135,000 are few and far between.”

The demand is highest for homes that are move-in ready in good locations, the agents said. Because of the tight market in that range, McKissack said he has to coach buyers to prepare them to buy a house.

“If a good home comes on the market, you have to get in there and get aggressive, and pay for it,” he said. “You may not get that same type of home down the line.”

While the demand seems to have been down at the end of 2013, it is already picking back up with the end of the holidays.

The market will continue to rely on existing homeowners deciding to sell for the next six months to a year, McKissack said. While building has picked up in record numbers, new homes won’t be ready to meet the current demand until later in the year.

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.

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