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Guide to S.A. — Home sales go nowhere — but up

Web Posted: 08/17/2006 01:58 PM CDT

Jennifer Hiller
Express-News Business Writer

Aspiring home buyers in the San Antonio region don't need industry data to tell them what's abundantly evident: Real estate is hot.

Home prices and home construction are both on a record pace.

Buyers in San Antonio and the surrounding counties are paying more than ever for their dream home. Sellers are celebrating that it's their market — homes are selling at a rapid clip and close to asking price.

With a real estate market that shows no signs of slowing, the San Antonio region is bucking a national trend.

Elsewhere in America, home prices are flattening and the inventory of homes for sale is swelling. Some cities are concerned home prices could fall.

But in San Antonio, builders expect to complete as many as 18,000 homes during 2006.

In December, Fortune magazine anointed the city as the best real estate market in the nation, with a projected home price appreciation rate of 8.3 percent in 2006.

And the median price of an existing home reached $137,100 in the first five months of the year. That's up 9 percent over 2005, when the median price was $125,600, according to data released by the San Antonio Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service.

Todd Glowka, a custom home builder, said San Antonio is starting to mature as a real estate community, but with plenty of land still available for new homes and neighborhoods, prices won't get out of reach of the average buyer.

“We never really got those huge increases like they were getting on the West Coast and East Coast and Florida,” Glowka said. “Our costs are still considerably less than other places in the country.”

Buyers might have to wait a bit longer to move into a new home, however. With a boom in residential construction, builders and their subcontractors are stretched to the limit. “We have a shortage of qualified subcontractors. They're overwhelmed and working six days a week to keep up with demand,” Glowka said.

In the existing-home market, sales volume is up 7 percent this year, with 9,117 home sales by the end of May. Last year there were 8,555 sales in the same period.

With so many people buying homes, renters are benefiting.

San Antonio apartment dwellers are paying just slightly more in rent this year than they did in 2005, according to a report from Hendricks & Partners, a national real estate firm that focuses on multifamily properties.

The average apartment rent rose to $632 by the end of March, up from $626 in March 2005.

Comal

In Comal County, prices are up, although houses are selling more slowly this year, said Jeani Thomas Richie, president of the New Braunfels Canyon Lake Association of Realtors.

Hot spots in the county include Bulverde, New Braunfels and Canyon Lake.

The median sale price is up, but while single-family houses spent an average of 121 days on the market in 2005, they have remained on the market for an average of 133 days this year. “They are pricing above market, then they are sitting on the market longer, which is a classic sign of overpricing,” Richie said.

Still, Richie said the area is benefiting from a wave of investors and second-home buyers. About 50 percent of her buyers in the Canyon Lake area are looking for second homes and vacation homes, she said.

“The Hill Country is very hot right now for people from other states,” she said. “More people coming from out of state are putting money into investment properties in other states — we happen to be one of them.”

In Bulverde, the median sales price reached $262,250, up more than 28 percent since 2004.

Homes in Bulverde are staying on the market an average of 79 days this year, compared with 83 days in 2005.


jhiller@express-news.net

Express-News staff writers Lety Laurel, Nicole Lessin, Chuck McCollough, Michelle Mondo and Amanda Reimherr contributed to this story.

San Antonio Express-News publish date Aug. 20, 2006

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