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North Texas closed out the year with another decline in home sales.
Local real estate agents sold 9 percent fewer homes in December than they did a year earlier — the fifth month in a row of year-over-year declines in home purchases.
Last month 7,786 homes were sold through the agents’ multiple listing service, according to data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University and the North Texas Real Estate Information System.
For all of 2018, 104,572 North Texas single-family home were sold, a drop of just 1 percent from 2017’s record sales total.
Last year’s slight decline in home purchases in the area followed almost eight years of increases.
"It’s still the second-best year ever," said Dr. James Gaines, chief economist with the Real Estate Center. "The whole state is reverting to a more normal market.
"We’ve been going really, really strong for years, and ultimately that slows down."
Higher mortgage rates and record home prices in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have caused some prospective buyers to pull back from the market.
"They are being asked to pay a higher price for less house than they want, and they are balking," Gaines said.
Along with the dip in home sales, the median sales price was just 4 percent higher in December than a year earlier. A year ago, prices were rising at more than twice that rate.
"A home price increase of 4 percent is sort of the normal rate of home appreciation," Gaines said. "It’s just not going up at the past rate.
"But you don’t want prices to go up 9 or 10 percent year after year."
The number of homes for sale in the almost two dozen North Texas counties included in the report was 22 percent higher than a year earlier, with more than 21,000 preowned single-family homes listed for sale with real estate agents.
On average it took 57 days to sell a property — 8 percent longer than a year earlier.
Even with the increase in inventory, there was only about a 2.4-month supply of houses listed for sale in the area at the end of December.
"Yes, the higher mortgage rates put a damper on what buyers can afford," said Paige Shipp with the housing analyst Metrostudy Inc. "I still believe that the lack of affordably priced homes has impacted sales.
"The strong price appreciation has created an undersupply of sub-$200,000-priced homes," she said. "We still have very strong demand, but fewer and fewer affordably priced homes to meet that demand."