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San Antonio Home Sales Kept Momentum Going in January

San Antonio's housing market kept roaring ahead in January after setting a sales record last year.

A total of 1,683 homes were sold in January, a 10 percent increase from that month in 2016, according to data from the San Antonio Board of Realtors. The growing local economy and population have fueled sales growth almost every month for the last four years, and there's enough pent-up demand to keep the momentum going for a while, said Jim Gaines, chief economist at the Texas A&M Real Estate Center.

"2017 is starting out even stronger than 2016," Gaines said. "It's sort of the same ol' same ol' that it's been for several months in San Antonio: The market is still very strong; sales demand is very high."

The San Antonio market set a sales record last year, with 29,508 homes sold, up from 27,256 in 2015.

Local home prices also continued their ascent in January as the supply of available homes remained tight. The median home sales price was $194,700 last month, a 4.3 percent increase from that month in 2016, according to the data. For most months over the past year, the growth rate in home prices has been above 6 percent.

The local area's inventory of available homes — measured by the average time it takes for a home to be sold if no new homes are listed — was at 3.2 months in January, slightly above the record low of 3.1 months set in December. The low inventory makes it a seller's market.

"Homebuilders are building about as fast as they can get them done, but they can't go faster," Gaines said.

"Quite frankly, it's not as much as it needs to be for the demand that's there."

Gaines predicted that 2017 will be another good year for the local housing market. One factor is that the Eagle Ford Shale is showing signs of recovering after it was decimated by the oil crisis in recent years.

Interest rates are likely to rise this year but not enough to significantly affect the housing market, he said. The national average for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.17 percent last week, slightly below where it was at the start of the year but above the 3.42 percent reached in October.

"If it's not another record year, it will be close to it," Gaines said of the local market. "San Antonio has been, quite honestly, discovered. People are looking at San Antonio as a good place to live and work. It's always been a hidden secret — Texans knew it, but outside the state it didn't have the appeal."

January is typically a slow month for home sales. The number of homes sold last month was down 30 percent from the 2,410 sold in December, according to SABOR's data. That's a typical drop compared to recent years.

In Texas as a whole, home sales increased 4.2 percent in January compared to the year before. The median home price rose 7.9 percent to $205,000.

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