After a long stretch as one of the nation’s hottest housing markets, Houston was hit with its biggest drop in home sales since last spring, showing new weakness among expensive homes, the segment that propelled home prices to record levels in 2014.
Sales of single-family homes declined 5.8 percent in February compared with the same time a year ago, the Houston Association of Realtors said Wednesday. The last significant drop in sales occurred in May, when housing demand fueled by $100 oil collided with a shortage of available homes.
Since then, a free fall in crude prices has forced spending cuts and layoffs at the biggest energy companies in town, whose prosperity helped drive the recent housing boom. But even as demand softens around what’s expected to be a slower stretch of economic growth this year, analysts aren’t predicting an all-out crash for Houston’s real estate market.
“We’re not in for a housing bust,” said Barton Smith, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Houston.
What’s more likely, he said, is a cooling of the feverish market. For now, prices aren’t expected to fall, but they also won’t come close to matching the recent gains many homeowners experienced over the last few years.
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