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VOL. 127 | NO. 241 | Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Home Sales Up 16 Percent

By Sarah Baker

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The Shelby County housing market continued to improve last month with year-over-year increases in home sales and average prices, and industry experts say those are just two of the signs that local residential real estate has stabilized.

There were 1,187 home sales registered in November, up 16 percent from the 1,024 sales tallied in November 2011, according to real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com.

Average home sales prices for November were $123,756, a 5 percent bump from $117,342 during the same month last year. Total sales revenue in November was also up at $147 million.

Carol Lott, broker with Crye-Leike Realtors Inc. and president of the Memphis Area Association of Realtors, said housing’s recent increases indicate that the market is seeing a trend instead of a fad, but the issue on the forefront is financing.

“That facet of the business is improving, as well, but we still have a long way to go,” Lott said. “Lending guidelines and restrictions will have a lot to do with how big the recovery is going to be.”

Overall, home sales activity is up 17 percent year to date, with 13,772 sales recorded through November. Average sales prices year to date were $124,377, a 2 percent increase from the same period last year.

Collierville’s 38017 ZIP code saw the most home buying activity with 83 sales averaging $304,694 and totaling $25 million. Eads’ 38028 had the highest average sales price, $422,417, but only recorded three sales.

Lott said homeowners still think prices are dropping, and she wants to “shout it from the mountain top” that prices are indeed trending upward. She’s seeing more multiple offers on properties that aren’t limited to foreclosures, Real-Estate Owned (REO) or short sales.

“We’ve actually been seeing signs of a seller’s market over the last month or so,” Lott said. “We are seeing more appraisals come in at contract price or higher, too. That is something that we have not seen for some time.”

Bank (or foreclosure) sales made up 23 percent of all home sales in November with 236 recorded, down 15 percent from last year. But year to date, bank sales were up 11 percent. November bank sales averaged $68,545 and totaled $16 million.

Conversely, nonbank (or traditional) sales were up 28 percent year over year with 951 recorded with Chandler. Year to date, nonbank sales were up 20 percent. Nonbank sales averaged $137,457 and totaled $131 million.

Meanwhile, November’s new home sales were flat, with 75 sales recorded compared to 74 in 2011. New home sales averaged $293,415, however, a 39 percent uptick from last November. Year to date, new home sales are up 3 percent and average sales prices are up 15 percent.

Dr. John Gnuschke, director of the Sparks Bureau of Business and Economic Research and co-director of the Center for Real Estate at the University of Memphis, said at last week’s Urban Land Institute Memphis Real Estate Outlook for the Mid-South seminar that local price trends and housing starts are good signs of what’s to come.

“They’re better than they were, they’re off the bottom,” Gnuschke said. “As long as we don’t see some disaster happening out of Washington, I think we’re pointed in the right direction for a steady, achievable, manageable growth.”

Existing homes tallied 1,112 sales, a 17 percent increase from November 2011’s 949 sales. Existing homes averaged $112,313 and totaled $125 million.

Lott believes Shelby County will continue to see small victories each month in 2013 just as it did in most every month of 2012.

“Remember, we did not get here overnight so the market is not going to correct itself quickly,” Lott said.

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

PROPERTY SALES 85 305 21,577
MORTGAGES 62 223 16,417
BANKRUPTCIES 34 138 6,717