Oil Prices Drop, Home Prices Still High

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

Fewer oil rigs have been pumping and oil prices headed south, but surprisingly the cost of getting a home stayed exactly the same leaving realtors and city leaders scratching their heads. With new industries moving to West Texas, that crunch is getting even tighter.

There's two main issues: the high cost of owning a home in West Texas despite that change in the oil economy and the lack of what officials are calling "affordable housing" or homes in the $100,000 price range. But that's something both Midland and Odessa are working to change.

"Constantly whether someone needs help buying a home, needs help with rent, so it's a continuing problem," Sylvester Cantu with Midland Community Development, said.

A rough economic year led to an equally hard time for West Texans trying to find a place to call home.

"It surprised me because I've been in the real estate business for 28 years," Larry Hatfield, President of the 2010 Permian Basin Board of Realtors, said. "When I got in the business in the early 80's, there were 2,400 houses for sale as opposed to 480 today."

Midland Community Development tells NewsWest 9, there's a big need for affordable housing - a problem they're working with multiple non-profits on solving.

"People are still having a hard time coming up with the down payment, the closing costs, having that nest egg to get into a home," Cantu said.

"One of the reasons we've had stable prices is because control of this oil market is in independent sales, not in majors like it was in the 80's," Hatfield said.

And over in Odessa, Community Development said the need for new homes is escalating daily. Several new plants are relocating to Ector County including the new Penwell site. They say, even with the down turned economy, homes are selling faster than ever and developers are having a hard time keeping up with it all.

"The market changes have really affected our population segment to the extent that housing is pretty expensive," Cantu said. "It makes it tough and really underscores the needs for the programs we have."

Those programs have helped to add about 20 homes on the south and east sides of Midland during the last year. Over in Odessa, they're thriving on about 30 new homes. Both of those community development programs say that this year they plan to add even more.