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The Market: positive job numbers, home sales

Real Estate Agent with The Chevaux Group

The fundamentals keep looking good for the Houston area and Montgomery County, which augurs well for home sales as well, now and in the coming year.

No matter where you look – consumer spending as measured by sales tax revenue; home sales; unemployment data; or building permits issued – economic activity is on the rise. Over time, this should all help contribute to a healthy real estate market in our area and specifically Montgomery County.

I addressed the rise in sales tax activity recently in this blog post.

Today, I want to hit on positive job growth and other measures.

Job Growth

On job growth, the Texas Workforce Commission recently released its jobs report. According to the commission, Houston area employers created 79,500 jobs over the past year, including robust gains in the oil and gas industry, manufacturing and health care. The Houston Chronicle has a report here.

From the commission report, overall in Texas, the private sector continued to grow in October, adding 13,500 jobs. Texas’ total nonfarm employment has expanded by 231,600 jobs over the year to reach an estimated 10,616,500 positions in October. Overall, Texas added 2,500 jobs over the month. Texas has experienced positive annual job growth in the past 18 months with annual growth rates above 2.0 percent for the last five consecutive months.

Unemployment overall also is headed the right direction; Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.4 percent in October, down slightly from 8.5 percent in September, and remains below the national unemployment rate of 9.0 percent.

In Montgomery County, the picture is even better, as this graph indicates:

Home sales

Meanwhile, home sales and construction activity is on the rise, with the Houston real estate market logging a fifth straight month of positive home sales in October, according to the Houston Association of Realtors.

According to the latest monthly data prepared by HAR, October sales of single-family homes rose 9.1 percent versus one year earlier. And the growth is broad-based. Again, according to HAR, all segments of the housing market, from the sub-$80,000 to the $500,000 and above, experienced growth. On a year-to-date basis, sales were up 3.4 percent.

"The further we distance ourselves from last year's tax credit as we analyze the local housing data, the clearer an indication we get of market performance, and the latest numbers show a healthy sales climate for an autumn in Houston," said Carlos P. Bujosa, HAR chairman and VP at Transwestern, in an HAR press release.

"As long as the Houston economy continues to strengthen with additional job growth, we can be cautiously optimistic about the state of the housing market going into the new year."

In terms of overall sales, the same news, generally speaking, applies to Montgomery County home sales year-to-date, as the chart below indicates:

And builders seem to be betting on continued growth in home sales, with steady growth in permits issued in Montgomery County for the last few months, according to the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.

In short, we are seeing numerous signs of a healthy, recovering economy. Overall, and over time, that should support healthy home sales.