Hurricane Ike's devastation might not extend to Houston's housing market

Before Hurricane Ike swept through the Gulf Coast on Saturday, the Houston area’s real estate market was one of the strongest in the country. Home prices were up about 1 percent in the second quarter at a time when most major cities are seeing declines.

But the storm, which might have left about 50,000 homes uninhabitable in the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria metro area, could actually give a boost to the housing market, University of Houston Professor Barton Smith told me today.

The local job market, which has remained robust thanks to the booming energy sector, has helped to fuel the need for housing. The storm has created a shortage of homes, some of which will likely never be rebuilt, Smith said. And new home starts could drop as builders turn their attention to repairing damaged homes, he added.

“This is probably going to create a strengthening of the housing market,” Smith said. “We didn’t have a significant amount of oversupply to begin with.”

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