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Longview housing market keeps pushing ahead

From Staff Reports
June 8, 2013 at 10 p.m.

Longview-area home prices continued a string of steady increases in April and May, but didn't rise at the torrid pace seen across the nation.

According to information from the Longview Area Association of Realtors, the average price of a home sold during April was $164,861, up more than 4 percent from a year earlier.

That paled in comparison to big price increases seen nationwide. According to a report issued this past week, home prices in April soared 12.1 percent from a year earlier. That was the biggest monthly gain since February 2006.

But the Longview-area increases have been steadily increasing this year, shows data from the association's Multiple Listing Service.

In May, area prices rose to $171,169. That continued a five-month string of average price increases in the Realtors' Longview market area.

National numbers for June were not yet available.

The Longview increases, which are occurring at the start of the busy summer selling season, came as no surprise to Phyllis Jolley, president of the Realtors' group and an associate with Coldwell Banker Lenhart Properties.

"The market has continued to trend upward," she said Friday, "and I don't anticipate it slowing."

For the year-to-date through May, the number of homes sold in the Longview area was up more than 4 percent from the first five months of 2012. The average price of a home sold through the association's Multiple Listing Service from January through May also increased more than 4 percent from a year ago, to $157,152.

That's good news for the area economy. Increasing home prices are a major factor in economic recovery, as they can encourage owners of existing homes to sell. They also spur prospective homeowners to buy before prices rise further.

Another factor driving sales, in East Texas and across the nation, are mortgage interest rates that remain near historical lows. As the economy continues improving, however, rates are increasing.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the U.S. rate on a 30-year mortgage jumped to 3.91 percent from 3.81 percent a week earlier. That was the highest since March 2012.

Still, rates are low by historical standards. The 30-year loan hit a record 3.31 percent rate in November. The 15-year loan fell to its low of 2.56 percent a month ago.

Jolley said such increases would have little impact on the Longview-area market, especially as we move into the traditionally hottest selling summer months.

"Of course we would like to see them remain lower, but if increases are small, I don't anticipate them slowing the market," she said.

During May, 175 home sales were closed through the association's Multiple Listing Service. That was down from 197 a year earlier. Average price of houses sold during the month rose to $171,169 from $167,939 a year ago.

The association's data represents about 85 percent of the total market. It does not capture sales by owners or some sales of new construction by builders.



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