North Texas movers, real estate agents vulnerable to housing market lull

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As the high heat has led many North Texas residents to slow down, the housing market has been experiencing a bit of a summer lull, too. With home prices remaining high thanks to low inventory and interest rates nearing an average of 7%-8% for a 30-year mortgage in Texas, many prospective homebuyers are staying put for now. Texas home sales were down nearly 11% in the second quarter of 2023 compared to last year, with national existing home sales down almost 19%.

For professionals like real estate agents and mortgage brokers who rely on the housing churn to keep afloat, that has a real impact.

“I would say the newer agents that got in the business thinking it was easy are the ones I’m seeing struggling,” Denton real estate agent Chrissy Mallouf said.

For sellers, too, conditions are far from ideal, especially compared to a year ago, when demand was high enough that homes often went for well above asking price within days of going to market. The Texas housing market is heading toward more balance with slight year-over-year price decreases, but the need for more available housing continues to keep costs high, squeezing out many first-time buyers.

“While inventory is up slightly over last year, it is below the levels we like to see,” said Beth Caudill, president of the Greater Denton Wise County Association of Realtors. “The demand is still outpacing the supply for housing in North Texas. Denton County nationally is one of the fastest growing counties in the country.”

Market stagnation doesn’t just impact those involved in the buying and selling process: Adjacent industries like home movers and inspectors also feel the pinch when the housing market slows.

“Sales are down year-over-year — you can definitely feel it,” said Marcus Watson, co-owner of Little Guys Movers in Denton.

Sales were down about 20% from last year in the first quarter, Watson said. Though they’re slightly up now in Denton, other Texas markets that Little Guys is active in are still experiencing a 10% to 20% dip in business. Along with people choosing to stay put, some who are moving and might otherwise hire movers may be choosing to move themselves to save money given the higher housing costs and rampant inflation.

Some companies are responding to the business slowdown by cutting costs or offering other services. Little Guys has started offering junk-hauling services and is also focused on increasing its presence in the senior moving space and is currently exploring becoming certified in senior moving.

As for real estate agents, they’re working closely with prospective buyers to match them with a home that’s a good fit and help them adjust their buying strategy. While no one can predict exactly where the market will go, Caudill said, the many commercial construction projects underway in Denton County point toward a continued demand for housing in the coming years.

Bottom line: Professionals in the housing and related industries expect the market to ebb and flow and know it’s often a waiting game to get back to a good place.

“We power through the slow times because once this correction hits, there’ll be a huge boom on the other side, so you just really want to make sure you’re there to catch it,” Watson said.

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