As Texans adjust to life under orders to stay at home during the coronavirus pandemic — and scramble to cover expenses with incomes that were drastically cut or abruptly shut off — housing and real estate experts say it’s hard to predict what the parallel public health and economic crises will do to home values and sales. A lot depends on how long the twin troubles last. “We definitely will have a slowdown, but the question is how much and how long,” said Scott Norman, executive director of the Texas Association of Builders. That’s a sudden about-face for what had been, until now, one of the most dynamic real estate markets in the country. The state has had five consecutive years breaking records in terms of numbers of houses sold and median prices, according to Texas Realtors. And Texas’ home building industry has been solid, too; no other state had more building permits in 2019, according to census data. Luis Torres, an economist with the Texas A&M Real Estate Center, said the housing sector can be a barometer for the economy as a whole because it affects jobs of laborers, builders, Realtors and a litany of other professions. “And it has a multiplier effect into the rest of the economy, from moving companies to furniture stores,” Torres said. Already, experts are seeing slowdowns in home showings — which are now largely done virtually — and expect that permits for new construction might also drop. For regions whose residents rely largely on the energy industry for work, like Houston or the Permian Basin, or on cross-border trade, like the Rio Grande Valley, home values and sales may dip more than in other Texas regions. Click to read more at www.news-journal.com.