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VOL. 124 | NO. 242 | Thursday, December 10, 2009

Home Sales Outpace Nov. ’08 Performance

By Eric Smith

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LOOKING UP: The current residential housing trend should bode well for homes on the market like this one in Germantown. Home sales in November exceeded the same month a year ago for the first time in 2009, according to Chandler Reports. -- PHOTO BY ERIC SMITH

For the first time all year, Shelby County’s home sales outpaced the same month of 2008, perhaps signaling an end – or at least the beginning of the end – to the local housing slump.

November notched 1,154 sales, a 17 percent improvement from 983 sales in November 2008, according to the latest data from real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com.

Granted, last month’s total also marked an 11 percent decrease from 1,290 sales in October, but seeing a month in 2009 perform better than its 2008 counterpart provided a glimmer of hope for those in the industry.

Sales last month averaged $125,086, up 10 percent from $113,709 in November 2008 and up 3 percent from $120,882 in October. The total sales volume of $144.3 million marked a 29 increase from $111.8 million in November 2008 and a 7 percent decrease from $155.9 million in October.

Glenn Moore, president-elect of the Memphis Area Association of Realtors and broker/owner of Glenn Moore Realty, said the most recent numbers are a clear sign the local market is headed toward recovery.

“Things are improving,” Moore said, “and I think we are on the road to that (recovery).”

‘Stabilization’

Jon Albright, MAAR president and partner at Investec Realty Services LLC, said the latest numbers have once again bolstered a “cautious optimism” for industry leaders about the market returning to normal.

“We’re starting to see stabilization,” he said. “Stabilization has got to occur before you have recovery.”

Breaking out bank and nonbank sales is further proof of that stabilization. November marked the smallest percentage of bank sales in the overall market during 2009. The month’s total of 383 bank sales represented just 33.2 percent of the total volume, a half a percentage point better than the previous low of 33.7 percent in September.

The high mark came in January when 503 out of 1,026 home sales, or 49 percent, were of the bank variety.

“I think that shows how the market is handling the absorption of foreclosures in a way that is healthier for the economy,” Moore said. “I think we’ve learned from the last round of foreclosures how that can be handled, where it doesn’t keep tearing down the market.”

Nonbank sales in November totaled 771, marking a 47 percent improvement from 525 in November 2008 but a 4 percent dropoff from 806 in October. Nonbank sales averaged $156,955, down 6 percent from $166,429 in November 2009 and up slightly from $156,088 in October.

The total sales volume for nonbank sales last month was $121 million, 38 percent better than $87.4 million in November 2008 but off 4 percent from $125.8 million in October.

As for the 383 bank sales, that total was a 16 percent decrease from 458 bank sales in November 2008 and a 21 percent decrease from 484 bank sales in October. Bank sales last month averaged $60,992, up 14 percent from $53,277 in November 2008 and down 2 percent from $62,254 in October.

The total sales volume last month for bank sales was $23.3 million, a 4 percent decline from $24.4 million in November 2008 and a 23 percent decline from $30.1 million in October.

Good vibes

Year to date, Shelby County has seen 13,336 home sales – bank and nonbank combined – which is down 13 percent from 15,246 during the first 11 months of 2008. This year’s sales have averaged $123,049, an 8 percent decrease from $133,652, while this year’s total sales volume of $1.64 billion is down 19 percent from $2.04 billion in 2008.

Regina Hubbard, broker at Lester Hubbard Realtors and 2010 chair of MAAR’s governmental affairs committee, was thrilled to hear the most recent numbers, which didn’t come as a huge surprise because she said she has felt an improvement in the overall real estate vibe.

“It is so much better. Normally this would be our slow time, the end of the year, but it is so much better,” Hubbard said. “I see it in the office, I see it in the production, I see it in the agents.”

Hubbard said the numbers are especially impressive because November is a short month, and with the Thanksgiving holiday the number of workdays gets reduced even further.

“October was popping, November was popping and December is kicking,” said Hubbard, who attributed much of the recent upswing to the stimulus bill and its recently extended and expanded $8,000 first-time homebuyers tax credit.

Still, Hubbard is worried the Federal Housing Administration will increase the down payment requirement on its loans from 3.5 percent to 5 percent, stunting any progress that has been made.

“We’ll just enjoy what we have and hopefully that won’t get through,” said Hubbard.

But she quickly added that the increase in sales during the past few months has Realtors bullish as they close the books on 2009 and look to 2010.

“We’re ending on a fantastic note,” she said.

Chandler Reports is a division of The Daily News Publishing Co. Inc.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 57 405 17,384
MORTGAGES 88 428 20,035
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 8 56 2,645
BUILDING PERMITS 230 853 35,946
BANKRUPTCIES 55 274 11,164
BUSINESS LICENSES 22 117 5,709
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 26 101 6,715
MARRIAGE LICENSES 36 134 3,916