More than half of Dallas-area neighborhoods saw a decline in home purchases in early 2018 after years of rising sales.
The largest decreases in sales came in high-priced neighborhoods in Colleyville (-30 percent), the Park Cities (-28 percent), Fairview (-26 percent) and Northeast Dallas including Lake Highlands (-20 percent).
Median sales prices were $400,000 and more in each of these neighborhoods that saw the most significant first-quarter declines, according to data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University and the North Texas Real Estate Information Systems.
Real estate agents and researchers say that prices for moderate and low-priced homes are still growing at a fast rate in the Dallas area while appreciation for higher-cost homes is much slower.
"We are definitely seeing a slowdown in appreciation at the higher end," said housing analyst Paige Shipp with Metrostudy Inc. "We are seeing more demand at the lower price points.
"We are seeing a trend toward buyers purchasing smaller homes," Shipp said. "As mortgage rates are increasing they can’t buy quite as much home as they could before."
She said more than 60 percent of the preowned homes sold in the area were priced below $300,000.
Median home resale prices were up an average of 10 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier in the 45 residential districts that The Dallas Morning News tracks.
Some of the greatest year-over-year price gains were in Irving (30 percent), Oak Cliff (26 percent) and Arlington (19 percent).
Linda Callicutt, president of the MetroTex Association of Realtors, said sellers are having a tougher time pushing up the prices for high-end homes.
"I think that’s because there is more inventory in that price range," she said. "It’s slowed down a little bit. The buyers are more discerning in what they will pay for."
Sales of the most expensive million-dollar-plus homes were down by 5 percent in the first three months of 2018.
Purchases of houses priced between $190,000 and $300,000 were up from 15 percent to 18 percent in the first quarter.
Callicutt said demand for lower priced homes is still fierce.
"In the under $250,000 market the competition is still insane," she said. "In places like Mesquite and Garland where there is more affordability that’s where all the first-time buyers and millennials are and sales are going off the charts."
At end of the first quarter, there were more houses for sale in North Texas compared to the same period in the last four years.
But good luck finding them.
The 7 percent rise in the number of homes listed for sale with area real estate agents is just a drop in the bucket compared with buyer demand. Less than half as many houses are up for sale than were available a decade ago when the area population was smaller.
In March there were about 1,400 more preowned houses on the market in North Texas than a year before.
"They are already sold," said Jim Fite, president of Dallas’ Century 21 Judge Fite Co. Realtors. "We have more inventory to sell, but the bad news is we still don’t have the inventory to meet demand of the buyers.
"It’s been that way for the last few years," Fite said. "I think we are in this for three to five years still."
Some of the biggest year-over-year increases in the number of homes listed for sale in the first quarter were in Richardson (up 60 percent), McKinney (up 35 percent) and Wylie (up 28 percent). But even in those areas, the inventory of houses on the market was around 2 months or less.
Home listings declined sharply in some of the more affordable residential districts including Lancaster (-24 percent), Duncanville (-17 percent) and Southeast Dallas (-12 percent).
Fite said competition from home investors is keeping the supply of affordable houses tight in many Dallas-area neighborhoods.
"I get probably three to five calls or letters from investors every day," he said. "I think they are paying stupid prices that drives up the market."
The number of homes listed for sale in North Texas at the end of the first quarter was at the highest level in four years.