The street talk has been of how low oil prices may negatively affect the real estate market in River Oaks, especially at the high-end. There was even an alarmist article with that implication in late-February published by Reuters and since then picked up by other media. However, the article was lazily researched and rather misleading.
The psychology of the market has been adversely affected by this kind of generalized negativity, but there is strong ongoing momentum continuing from the final two months of 2015, especially at the high end. Even in the mid- and lower-end River Oaks market and in neighboring markets, there is strong interest from qualified buyers. This has not translated into many new contracts, however, as those buyers hesitate due to uncertainty. But the buyers are most certainly out there, and they have money.
At the high end of the market – that is, properties listed at $4 million or more – there have been more closed sales (four) through the end of February than in any previous year.
At the same time one should note that inventory in this sector is also rising to higher levels than we have seen in previous years. That may be a good thing, with fresh inventory stirring the market.
Home-viewing activity has been disappointing at the start of 2016, well behind the same period in 2015. The malaise about the outlook for the local economy may explain a lot. However, there is a palpable sense that buyer activity at all price levels has picked up since early March. There is usually a point at which market participants get tired of procrastinating and decide to plunge in. Typically, buyers tend to all do so at the same time. We have the sense that, all other things being equal, March will bring a pickup of substantial activity.