News Column

Home Sales Jump 31 Percent in San Antonio

June 13, 2013

The San Antonio housing market continued its spring surge last month, with home sales hitting a five-year high.

In May, 2,480 existing homes sold in the San Antonio area. That represents a 31 percent increase, compared with the same period last year, when nearly 1,900 homes sold, according to data from the San Antonio Board of Realtors.

The area housing market has posted gains every month this year, but the increase posted in May was the highest.

So far this year, the number of homes sold has jumped 19 percent, compared with the same period in 2012.

Although spring and summer seasons are usually the busiest months for real estate, more homebuyers are taking the plunge as mortgage interest rates start to rise.

"I think that everyone is starting to feel that as rates creep up a little bit, they've bottomed out and that if they don't take advantage of it now, then they're going to miss the (low) rates," said Steven Gragg, SABOR's chairman. Mortgage interest rates are around 4.2 percent, after hovering closer to 3.5 percent for most of the year.

Gragg also said San Antonio's job growth and stable economy were positive factors driving the real estate market.

The median price for an existing home rose to $174,000 in May. That's up 7.3 percent, compared with May 2012, when the price was $162,200.

On average, homes stayed on the market 78 days in May before selling. That's a low for the year and a 15 percent slide, compared with the same period in 2012.

Housing inventory remains around 5.1 months, which indicates a seller's market.

Inventory for new homes is just as tight, and prices are higher. Still, there's growing demand among people looking to buy new houses, said Jack Inselmann, a vice president at housing research company Metrostudy.

Inselmann estimates that there will be about 9,000 housing starts this year, an 11 percent jump, compared with last year. During the first quarter, builders started 2,042 homes.

Historically, more than 30 percent of new construction occurs on the Northwest Side, with communities such as Alamo Ranch continuing to grow.

Most recently, KB Home acquired about 200 acres at Culebra Road and FM 1560, where it will develop the Cross Creek neighborhood. This year, the Los Angeles-based builder has plans to release 100 homes. A second phase is expected to come online next year. In total, about 600 homes are planned for the community.

The community's model home park is expected to open in August.

"The development sits smack dab in the middle of the most active submarket in San Antonio over the past 30 years," Inselmann said. "It's reasonable to want to continue to build over there."

vlucio@express-news.net

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