MLS Press Releases

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Matthew Burrus

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David Mendel

Public Relations Manager

Multiple Listing Service of the Houston Association of REALTORS® includes residential properties and new homes listed by 47,000 REALTORS®

December 2003 Sales
Houston's Home Sales Break Annual Records for Fourth Consecutive Year
HOUSTON (January 13, 2004) – Houston’s real estate market showed strong gains yet again in 2003, representing the highest number of homes sold by Realtors® in one year. This marks the fourth consecutive year that home sales have broken annual records. The total number of properties closed in the Houston-area MLS in 2003 surpassed 2002’s figure of 60,247 by 8 percent, closing the year at 65,046.

“Low interest rates and a strong starter-home market were the driving factors behind Houston’s residential real estate market during 2003. I also believe that 2004 is shaping up to look like the second-best year on record, just behind the all-time record high in 2003,” said Ted C. Jones, Ph.D., HAR chairman and Stewart Title chief economist. “Interest rates will remain highly favorable throughout the year – but will begin to drift upwards as the year goes on.”

Another top story in 2003 was the amount of available inventory listed by Realtors in the MLS system. The year began with an available inventory of 34,012 active listings. Figures increased steadily throughout the year, peaking at 38,884 in September and finishing in December at 35,394. (For the year previous, the peak in 2002 occurred during October with 34,027 listings). In addition, the overall yearly average number of available listings during 2003 also rose to 36,845. There was an average of 31,366 available listings during 2002. Houston has not experienced such a strong available inventory since 1987.

Although inventory rose in 2003, the number of months of inventory of homes available for sale remain indicative of a very healthy relationship between supply and demand. Normal inventory is considered to be nine or 10 months for existing homes, while anything less than eight months is a sellers market and more than 12 months is a buyers market. This past year ended with 6.2 months, up from 5.2 months a year ago.

“Big inventories in the higher price ranges have muted the aggressive seven percent price increases we saw in the past, but overall the average Houston home price will rise once again in 2004 by an estimated four to five percent,” said Jones.

The median price for single-family homes in 2003 peaked at $143,000 during July, representing the highest median price ever recorded in Houston. Record high prices and sales totals translated into a total dollar volume of approximately $10,758,999,672 for 2003, an increase of 7.3 percent from 2002’s total of $10,025,649,810.
Year-to-Date Comparison
2002 2003 Percent Change
Total home sales 60,247 65,046 +8.0%
Total dollar volume $10 billion $10.8 billion +7.3%
Peak median price, single-family home $137,500 $143,000 +4%
Avg. no. of active listings per month 31,366 36,844 +17.5%
Months inventory* 5.2 6.2 +19.2

December Market Comparison (all categories)
December 2002 December 2003 Percent Change
Total property sales 4,967 5,815 +17%
Total dollar volume $681 million $702 million +14.9%
Active listings 32,347 35,394 +9.4%
Pending sales 2,604 3,252 +24.9%
* Months inventory estimates the number of months it will take to deplete current active inventory based on the prior twelve months sales activity.
December Single-family Homes Update

Total sales for single-family homes increased 15.5 percent to 4,754 from last year's 4116. Within this single-family home category, 851 of the homes sold were new homes listed by Realtors, versus 731 new homes sold through the MLS during December 2002.*

The median price of single-family homes dipped to $135,000 in December, compared to $137,500 last December.

Houston Year-To-Date Real Estate Milestones
  • 2003 marked the highest number of properties sold by Realtors in the course of one year
  • 2003 saw the highest median price ever recorded for Houston (occurred in July)
  • 2003 saw gains in every category: in total home sales, in total dollar volume, in media price of single-family homes, in active listings per month and in inventory
    The computerized Multiple Listing Service of the Houston Association of Realtors® includes residential properties and new homes listed by more than 17,000 Realtors throughout Harris, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties, as well as parts of Brazoria, Galveston, Waller and Wharton counties. For specific questions regarding a certain area, contact your Realtor®. The information published and disseminated to the HAR Multiple Listing Services is communicated verbatim, without change by Multiple Listing Services, as filed by MLS participants. The MLS does not verify the information provided and disclaims any responsibility for its accuracy. All data is preliminary and subject to change. Monthly sales figures reported since November 1998 include a statistical estimation to account for late entries. Twelve-month totals may vary from actual end-of-year figures. (Single-family detached homes were broken out separately in monthly figures beginning February 1988).

    The Houston Association of Realtors® is the largest trade association in Houston and the largest local Realtor® association in the nation. Residential home sales statistics as well as listing information for more than 34,000 listings can be found on the Internet at