Home sales jumped to another record during 2019 in the Longview area, pushing residential construction to a big increase in the city as well.

Year-end data from the Longview Area Association of Realtors showed the number of homes sold in the association’s 10-county region increased by 5.5% above the previous year’s record level. And the 2019 level represented a nearly 18 percent increase over sales in 2017.

Melanie Northcutt Crocker, owner/broker of Sugar Magnolia Properties, said in a statement that 2019 was a “fantastic year for Longview real estate.”

“Interest rates remained appealing, and we saw many first-time home buyers,” she said.

Association data showed Realtors closed 3,408 homes in 2019. That was up from 3,230 sales in 2018 and 2,739 in 2017.

Several hot sales months combined for the record year, data show. A record-high 345 sales were closed in July, which was one of five months last year in which 300 or more houses were sold.

Average sale prices also increased as homes sold more quickly. The average price of a home sold during 2019 was $186,928, up 4.2% from the 2018 average of $179,467. In 2017, the average was $167,423.

Within Longview

Within Longview ZIP codes, the median sale price was $172,000 in 2019, up 7.8% from $159,500 in 2018, according to the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.

Homes in the price range of $100,000 to $199,999 accounted for 54% of all sales in 2019 in Longview ZIP codes.

Brokers and agents sold 923 homes within Longview ZIP codes in 2019, down from 925 in 2018.

Homes within Longview ZIP codes were on the market an average of 111 days in 2019, down from 123 in 2018.

In the association’s 10-county region, homes spent an average of 103.5 days on the market in 2019, down from 107.5 in 2018.

2020 outlook

Northcutt Crocker and Julie Woods, owner/broker of Julie Woods & Associates Real Estate Firm, were upbeat about prospects for the new year.

“Real estate continues to be strong for the start of 2020,” Woods said in a statement. “Typically, the real estate market does not begin to heat up until mid-January for the year and continues through July Fourth. However, we have not seen a true slowdown since October 2018.”

Northcutt Crocker said, “We look forward to a strong 2020, and are excited about all the exciting developments in Longview attracting home buyers to our area.”

The real estate association’s data is based on sales made through its Multiple Listing Service, which represents about 85 percent of total sales in the market. It does not capture sales by owners or some sales of new construction by builders.

Residential construction

Data from the city of Longview showed residential construction increased during 2019 along with sales.

The city’s Development Services Department issued 123 permits for construction of single-family homes in 2019, up 23% from the 100 permits issued in 2018 and up about 15% from 107 in 2017.

Permit totals skyrocketed to 26 in December, typically one of the slowest months of the year. The December total was the highest monthly number in more than three years, but Development Services staff this past week were unable to determine how long ago builders took out as many permits.

Dallas-based Ameritex Homes, a newcomer to Longview, took out 10 permits in December, more than any other builder.

“At Ameritex Homes, we have a passion for providing new, moderately priced homes for Texas residents,” marketing manager Shelby Onstot said in a statement. “Compared to older homes, our energy-efficient homes save, on average, more than $800 a year in utility bills. We believe building Ameritex Homes in Longview and across the state of Texas offers value to our communities and its residents.”

Ameritex obtained permits for smaller homes — from 674 to 1,090 square feet — with values ranging from $50,000 to $80,000. Nine of the 10 are identified as being in the South Longview Incentive Program, according to city data. The SLIP program waives fees as an incentive to encourage construction of affordable, or workforce, housing. The company as of this past week had not begun construction on any of the homes.

Market competition

Ameritex appeared to be appealing to the same market segment as other builders, such as East Texas Homes LLC, which took out two permits in December for homes on North Third Street. One of its homes is listed as being in the SLIP program.

“I can tell you we had a very active year,” East Texas partner Mike Alston said. “We are probably up 25%” in home construction.

Alston, who has been building homes here since 2006, said 30 homes are on the drawing board in the Spring Hill area. East Texas Homes completed four homes in Spring Hill and has sold all of them.

He said the Spring Hill homes cover about 2,400 square feet, are selling in the $190,000 to $220,000 price range and appeal to young couples who are buying their first or second homes.

East Texas Homes also has been building two-story, 1,400-square foot homes on a 17-lot subdivision on Berkley Street that are selling for about $130,000, Alston said. He said they appeal to first-time home buyers as well as couples who are downsizing.

Permit values

The abundance of homes in a lower permit value range in December reduced the average value of permits issued to $109,896. That was down 37% from the year-round monthly average of $174,445.

It compared with an average monthly value of $187,853 in 2018 and $171,922 in 2017.

As with all building permit values, the listed value is the construction cost and does not take into account other factors that go into the sale price of a home, including land, the builder’s profit and real estate professional’s commission.