Texas home sales volume, home prices and listing activity experienced strong gains in the first half of the year, according to the Texas Association of REALTORS® 2017 Texas Real Estate Midyear Report. San Antonio was no exception, as we saw median prices slide up 5 percent and price-per-square-foot increase 6.2 percent over 2016. But Hurricane Harvey, and the massive devastation left in its wake, will have an incredible influence over the next six months–and beyond. Most of us have friends or relatives who are now dealing with their losses from flooding and gale-force winds, and the challenges they are facing in rebuilding are enormous. Those affected will have to make the decision about whether to rebuild or try to sell and move, and either option comes with both a human and economic pricetag. Businesses from “Mom and Pop” operations to blue-chip companies will need to make the same determination. I have already seen buyers from Houston taking a look at relocating to San Antonio, and I also think area developers will face shortages of skilled workers (already in short supply), such as electricians and masons, as Houston and the coastal areas rebuild. Though we were spared the direct effects of Harvey’s wrath here, we will certainly see the ripples from it in our market for some time to come.
Jim Gaines, Ph.D., chief economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, cautioned that Hurricane Harvey will likely negatively impact housing market statistics for some time to come. “Houston’s housing market accounts for roughly 25 percent of the Texas housing market,” said Gaines, “and it could take months before the Houston area begins to enter the recovery phase and a few years before the impacted communities fully recover.”