Town Crier Staff

Despite a small decline in home sales, the McAllen area is one of the nation’s strongest housing markets according to national real estate analysts.

Last month, Forbes listed McAllen as one of America’s 25 Strongest Housing Markets.

In 2009, inclusion on the Forbes list doesn’t indicate on ongoing or predict housing boom, but a stable market. This year’s strongest markets are those that didn’t participate in the boom of the mid-2000s.

“Texas’ border communities like McAllen and El Paso have seen a little weakness because of the economy,” said Mark Zandt, chief economist with Moody’s. “That is to be expected. McAllen will fare better than average because of the overall affordability of homes in the area.”

Last year, 2,152 homes were sold in the McAllen area compared to 2,286 in 2007, according to figures compiled by the Greater McAllen Association of Realtors. Though the numbers are down, over 100 homes were sold a month last year. May and August had the strongest sales with 227 and 220 homes sold, respectively. November was the weakest month with 103 sales reported.

Still, sales last year were a little better than five years ago in 2003 when sales were averaging less than 150 homes per month. Ten years ago, in 1998, sales averaged just over 100 homes per month.

Home prices are down slightly, with the average home price at $112,800 in December 2008 compared to $129,700 for the same period in 2007. The median price fell from $106,300 in ’07 to $89,700 at the end of ’08.

While the supply of houses on the market has remained strong, the number of permits issued for new single-family homes continued the decline that started in 2007, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures. In November 2008, 165 permits were issued compared to 309 in November 2007, a 36 percent decline.

The McAllen area housing supply peaked in July of last year when a 15.3-month inventory of homes was recorded. The year ended with a 13.0-month inventory compared to a 13.5-month inventory at the end of 2007.

Having avoided the ups and downs of a hot housing market seen recently in many parts of the county, McAllen home values will be stable, the Moody’s analysis concludes. Given the overall national economy, terms like steady and stable are something to cheer about.