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Report: Corpus Christi homes more costly, taking longer to sell

CORPUS CHRISTI — Homes are taking longer to sell in the Coastal Bend, which is wrestling with its largest inventory of vacant houses in two years.

The price of the average home sold in the Corpus Christi area was $201,800 in May, about 0.45 percent below that of May 2014, according to the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.

The Real Estate Center also reported Corpus Christi’s home inventory — or the number of months it takes to sell a home — was 5.1 months in May, up from roughly 4.7 months during the last 15 months.

Together, they may be evidence that Corpus Christi’s white-hot housing market may be showing signs of leveling or cooling off altogether.

“Just like what happened at the end of the last housing boom almost 10 years ago, the number of homes for sales continues to stay high,” said Jim Lee, the chief economist at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

A total of 2,036 homes were sitting on the market in May, the highest since December 2012. The Real Estate Center also reported 425 homes were sold in May, which was down from 436 in April, but slightly above par when compared with most spring months.

Local realtors and homebuilders expect June to show strong sales, or at least those comparable to June 2014. That month, 483 homes were sold, the highest volume of single-month sales since June 2006.

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The supply increase is, to an extent, being driven by new homes, said Bart Braselton, of Braselton Homes.

Although builders haven’t noticed any appreciable change in new home sales, prices for used homes continue to rise.

“My colleagues are bringing homes to market at a slightly faster pace than last year, but in just a few short years, we have doubled the number of homes built annually,” Braselton said.

Lee said although local home prices are less affordable, demand remains relatively strong because mortgage rates are at historic lows. The Federal Reserve also has given indications that interest rates would go up before the end of year.

Lee said the trend in housing parallels that of the labor market. The Texas Workforce Commission issued a report last month that placed the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in May at 4.3 percent, up from 4.2 percent in April.

Average home prices in May were higher than those of past Mays, expect for May 2014, when homes sold for $202,700.

Home averages were $184,600, $185,000 and $151,100 in May 2013, 2012 and 2011 respectively.

Jerry Garcia, president of Hacienda Construction Inc., doesn’t believe the Coastal Bend has been overbuilt.

Labor shortages and soaring prices for steel, concrete and other building materials are adding to a home’s selling price, lengthening some buyers’ wait to get into their homes.

“For quality workmanship, you have to wait a little longer,” said Garcia, who has built homes in the area since 1984.

This article was written by Chris Ramirez from Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Texas and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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