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Victoria in line with country for housing market prosperity

By BY JESSICA PRIEST - JPRIEST@VICAD.COM
Feb. 27, 2013 at 11 p.m.
Updated Feb. 27, 2013 at 8:28 p.m.


While Victoria realtors are enjoying economic prosperity after years of enduring a dismal housing market, they say there still is not that much in the way of square footage to sell.

The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that the number of Americans signing contracts to buy homes rose from 4.5 percent to 105.9 percent from December to January. That is its highest level since April 2010, according to the Associated Press.

Max Pooley, co-owner of Pooley Land & Realty Company, said that is a figure illustrated throughout the Crossroads, where more and more young people are opting to ditch their pricey apartment.

He said it's smart to invest in real estate when loan interest rates, which used to be as much as 18 percent, are at an all-time low.

"Over a three-or five-year period, the appreciation in the value of your property is going to go up higher than what you would make on a savings account," Pooley said.

He said there have been times when customers from out of the state who work in the oil industry tried to expedite their move to Victoria. In those cases, the transactions were done entirely over the Internet.

"That's the exception rather than the rule," Pooley said, but about 90 percent of people search listings online before heading out to view them on foot.

In 2009, the Victoria Area Association of Realtors recorded 820 properties were sold in Victoria County and the five counties that surround it. That accounted for a total value of $112 million, Pooley said.

He said the agency found in 2012 that sales increased by 40 percent for a total of 1,150 homes sold. That was $196 million worth of property.

There were also 167 active listings on the Victoria Multiple Listings Service as of Wednesday night.

Pooley's employee, Joyce Mitchum, said it's probably best buyers act fast since most of the available inventory is snatched up in as little as a week or two.

"It's almost cheaper now to purchase a new home than it is to rent an apartment in this area. That's a lot of the calls I have received," she said.

Mitchum thinks the shortage could be resolved if neighborhoods with houses ranging in price from $150,000 to $200,000 were built for those working in the energy industry.

Jimmy Zaplac, a Coldwell Banker realtor, said although there are some new subdivisions on the horizon, such as Lake Forest, Terra Vista and Highland Hills, it's a sellers market.

"They have a little more clout right now, I guess you could say," he said.

Greg Spears, of Greg Spears Realty, said buyers should be both patient and pre-approved. He said a couple that didn't jump on one of the five properties they viewed about a week ago was disappointed when they learned all are under contract now.

"It's kind of like it's on steroids," he said of the situation.

Pooley anticipates there would not be an oil bust for about 10-15 years as service companies may spin off the original works that's being done.

Mitchum is not sure.

"It is in the back of my head. How long will it last?" she said.

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