Longview-area home sales jumped in 2018 as the regional economy improved — and even as single-family home construction continued to slow within the city.

With more-confident consumers and mostly favorable mortgage interest rates, the number of homes sold during 2018 were up almost 18 percent from the previous year, according to year-end data from the Longview Area Association of Realtors.

“I’m very encouraged, and I’m not at all surprised,” said Teri Norwood of Teri Norwood Real Estate Team. “Our market has been steady. Our market seems to be performing better than the national market. Texas as a whole is performing better.”

Realtors in the association’s 10-county area sold 3,230 homes in 2018, up from 2,739 in 2017. The average sale price year round also increased about 7.2 percent. That made 2018’s average sale price $179,467, up from $167,423 in 2017.

Sales increased because “consumers felt it was a great time to purchase,” said Jeff Ramsey, owner of Ramsey Realty Group and Jeff Ramsey Custom Homes. “The economy became stronger in general.”

The past year saw four months in which Realtors achieved the first-ever monthly sales of 300 or more homes found in records going back to January 2012: They sold 300 in March, 307 in April, 341 in June and 306 in July.

The year closed in December with the sale of 243 homes, 3.8 percent more than 234 homes sold a year ago. The average sale price in December was $181,065, an increase of about 4.1 percent from the average of $173,940 a year ago.

Homes remained on the market an average of 99 days in December, down 18.3 percent from 121 a year ago.

The average sale prices in both years were higher than the median price for a home within Longview ZIP codes, according to association data. The median price in December was $169,950, up 13.9 percent from the median price a year ago at $149,200.

Realtors closed 81 sales in December in the Longview ZIP codes, up 6.66 percent from 76 a year ago.

Home sales in the $100,000 to $199,999 price range accounted for 50 percent of all sales in the Longview ZIP codes in December, followed by 29.5 percent selling for prices from $200,000 to $299,999.

Homes also sold for higher prices in 2018 prices because building costs increased as much as 10 percent, Ramsey said.

Permit numbers drop

While sales and home prices went up in 2018, the number of permits for single-family homes issued within Longview city limits dropped about 6.5 percent, to 100 in 2018 from 107 in 2017, according to data from the Longview Development Services Department.

At the same time, the value of permits increased by 9.27 percent to an average of $187,853 in 2018 from $171,922 in 2017.

The drop in number of permits issued is “negligible,” said Anwar Khalifa, owner and general manager of Tyler-based Pyramid Homes.

“Next year it may be 108 or 110,” he said.

And while housing starts numbered 107 in 2017 within Longview, total housing starts for school districts in the greater Longview area numbered 182 that year, Chris Hall, president of the East Texas Builders Association, said in a written statement. Comparable numbers for 2018 were not yet available.

Higher building costs

Hall attributed the increase in permit values in 2018 to sharp increases in building materials, appliances, plumbing fixtures, flooring and lighting. He added appliances and plumbing increased by from 3 percent to 7 percent in costs while flooring costs went up twice as a result of tariff hikes of 10 percent and 7 percent.

Khalifa, who has been building homes since 1993, expressed similar views.

“Well, the prices are going up,” he said. “That is the profound thing. … The framers have gone up. Lumber has gone up. Labor has gone up.”

Khalifa said he builds homes in the price range of $150,000 to $350,000.

But despite the higher costs, homes remain a “great investment,” said Ramsey, the Realtor and homebuilder.

Though mostly favorable, he pointed to mortgage interest rates as another cost-increasing factor in 2018. While still higher than a year ago, rates have been falling for six straight weeks and as of Thursday stood at their lowest level in nine months.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the average rate this past week on the benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was unchanged from last week at 4.45 percent. A year ago, the key 30-year rate averaged 4.04 percent.

The Realtors association’s data is based on 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.

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 Realtor’s commission.

Building permits

Here’s a look at building permits issued for single-family home construction in the city of Longview by month during 2017 and 2018:

Month Permits issued Average permit value
January 2018 4 $221,250
February 7 $174,018
March 18 $188,433
April 11 $174,943
May 10 $182,779
June 7 $176,281
July 12 $176,008
August 4 $135,000
September 11 $177,619
October 6 $206,935
November 7 $192,109
December 3 $248,859
January 2017 14 $184,286
February 14 $193,319
March 16 $183,929
April 13 $165,868
May 8 $166,511
June 7 $131,134
July 4 $93,000
August 10 $156,787
September 2 $157,500
October 8 $252,019
November 8 $160,750
December 3 $217,961

Longview-area home sales

Here’s a look at home sales and average sale prices by month during 2017 and 2018:

Month Homes sold Average sale price
January 2018 179 $171,495
February 190 $165,988
March 300 $177,802
April 307 $170,612
May 295 $193,930
June 341 $184,540
July 306 $199,766
August 297 $178,651
September 255 $175,420
October 281 $174,436
November 236 $179,898
December 243 $181,065
January 2017 135 $144,635
February 156 $173,286
March 231 $157,055
April 216 $150,580
May 262 $183,811
June 281 $173,479
July 251 $172,426
August 268 $170,230
September 241 $165,399
October 197 $165,334
November 267 $178,910
December 234 $173,940
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