Longview-area home sales through the first six months of 2019 fell just short of the record pace set in 2018, Realtors data shows, while average sales prices continued to increase.

The Longview Area Association of Realtors said members sold 1,599 homes through June, down less than 1 percent from 1,612 sold during the same period a year ago, when Realtors were on the way to a record sales year.

Sales prices through June were up about 4 percent, to $184,482 from $177,395 a year ago.

“Homes are flying off the market right now,” Melanie Northcutt Crocker, owner-broker of Sugar Magnolia Properties, said last week. “As soon as homes are listed, we are seeing multiple offers and/or no chance for buyers to even get into see them before they are under contract.”

That puts sellers in the drivers seat, she said, and is a main reason for increasing sales prices. “Buyers are paying more of a premium due to lack of inventory to choose from,” Northcutt Crocker said.

The home-sale totals for the first six months broke an upward trend for the first half that’s been seen in recent years. Association data shows Realtors sold 1,113 homes from January to June in 2015, 1,257 in 2016 and 1,281 in 2017.

A year ago, the first six months set the stage for the Longview area’s first-ever months with more than 300 sales, and for a year that finished with 2,101 sales and the largest-ever volume, at $373.4 million.

June sales dip

For the month of June, Realtors sold 336 homes, down about 1.4% from the seven-year record of 341 homes sold in June 2018. At $190,887 in June, the average sale price was about 3.4% higher than $184,540 a year ago.

Homes were on the market for an average of 107 days for the first six months of this year, down nearly 20 percent from 119 days for the first six months of 2018. In June, they were going even more quickly, staying on the market an average of 95 days, down 21.4% from 121 a year ago.

The real estate association says data from Longview ZIP codes give a less accurate picture of the market than do the regional figures.

The reports show Realtors sold 273 homes during the second three months of the year in Longview ZIP codes, up from 270 in the second quarter of 2018. The median sale price was $176,000 during the second quarter of this year, up 10.1% from $159,950 for the same quarter in 2018.

Active listings totaled 383 during the second quarter in Longview ZIP codes, down 10.3% from 427 a year ago.

Homes stayed on the market 116 days during the second quarter, down 7.9 percent from 126 a year ago.

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

Longview building slows

The city of Longview also issued fewer permits for single-family homes during the first six months of this year compared with 2018. The average permit values also dropped, city data shows.

Through June, the city issued 49 permits for new single-family home construction within Longview. That was down 14% from 57 issued during the same period in 2018. The average permit value also dropped nearly 3%, from $186,284 to $181,321.

The fewer permits issued does not give a complete picture of the local housing industry, said Chris Hall, president of the East Texas Builders Association, which has about 380 members. That’s because existing subdivisions within city limits have few available lots for construction. That means area construction is increasing.

“We have a lot of building going on outside the city limits,” Hall said. “We really need more subdivision development in Longview.”

He said he is building three homes outside the city that are from 4,000 to 7,000 square feet. He added the typical home size in Longview ranges from 2,200 to 2,700 square feet.

By contrast, Joe Hart III, project manager for JPI Development LP, is building townhomes about 1,550 square feet in size in the 56-lot Page Creek Trail subdivision of Page Road and Victor Drive. The Development Services Department issued four permits to JPI in June, the most of any builder of a total of seven permits.

“It’s a sellers market right now because there are more buyers than homes,” Hart said.

The four townhomes have a permit value of $150,000, according to city data.

Hart said the homes are targeted for empty nesters and are selling for around $215,000.

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.

First-half home sales in Longview area

Here’s a look at homes sold by month through the first half of 2019 and the first half of 2018.

Month Total homes sold Average sale price
January 2019 193 $172186
Febuary 2019 204 $176,913
March 2019 282 $175,449
April 2019 253 $193,316
May 2019 331 $198,138
June 2019 336 $190,887
January 2018 179 $171,495
February 2018 190 $165,988
March 2018 300 $177,802
April 2018 307 $170,612
May 2018 295 $193,930
June 2018 341 $184,540