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VOL. 119 | NO. 205 | Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Home Sales Hold Strong in Shelby County

LANCE ALLAN | The Daily News

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Top Five ZIP codes
for third quarter home sales:

38017 534
38016 490
38002 401
38111 368
38018 350

The hot Memphis residential real estate market continues to sizzle, if third quarter activity is any evidence.

A total of 7,178 homes were sold in Shelby County in third quarter 2005, a 9.4 percent increase from 6,562 sold in the same period last year, according to Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com.

"Things are picking up," said Mary Baker, a Realtor with Re/Max Elite of Memphis. "Showings are starting to pick up. I'm excited here. One of our showings, they were thinking about leasing, but we said, 'Hold on. You've had six showings in a week.' I think interest rates are drifting back up, so people on the fence are getting back in."

Suburban steam. Collierville's 38017 ZIP code had the highest number of sales in the third quarter, at 534. That number marks a 24.8 percent increase from 428 sold in the same period last year, which was still strong enough to make it the second-highest performing market in Shelby County.

Collierville is a particularly strong area for home sales right now with its recent commercial growth, including last month's opening of The Avenue Carriage Crossing, an 800,000-square-foot open air shopping center.

"Collierville has a good reputation for a small town atmosphere and good reputation for schools," Baker said. "That could have something to do with pulling ahead of Cordova.

"All the business movement in Collierville helps them. Buying in Collierville, it's like moving out of the city, but Cordova is not that way. But Cordova does have good interstate access and amenities."

By area. Cordova's 38016 ZIP code saw the second-highest number of sales during the period at 490. That number reflects a 3.9 percent drop from 510 sold during third quarter 2004, when the area led all ZIP codes.

The 38002 ZIP code, which includes Arlington and parts of Lakeland, finished third for the period with 401 sales. That marked a drop of 5.4 percent from third quarter 2004, when the area saw 424 sales. The 38111 ZIP code near the University of Memphis had the fourth-highest number of sales in the quarter, with 368. That's a 9.9 percent increase from 335 sold during the same period last year.

Rounding out the top five ZIP codes for sales in the third quarter of this year was the 38018 Cordova ZIP, which had 350 sales, a 10.5 percent decline from 391 sales in the same period last year.

Although three of the top five ZIP codes for home sales actually saw declines from third quarter 2004, 25 of the county's 33 ZIP codes saw some sort of increase.

"Third quarter sales have been brisk for us," said Lee McWaters of McWaters & Associates. "It seems like we've been keeping pace with the rest of the year. Our year overall is down quite a bit from the year before, but we're still having a pretty good, solid year."

Price increases. The average size of homes sold in the quarter was 1,984 square feet, a 1.2 percent increase over 1,960 square feet in third quarter 2004. The average price of homes sold in the third quarter of this year was $160,504, a 4.5 percent increase from $153,558 for homes sold in the same period last year.

Baker has noticed that prices have been rising not only from last year's figures, but from recent months, as well.

"We've seen increases," she said. "We've seen values staying steady or going up in all areas. Even my foreclosures I've gotten better prices."

The ZIP code with the highest average selling price in the third quarter was Eads' 38028, where 18 homes sold at an average price of $561,611, a 43.8 percent increase over $390,462 for 22 sold in the same period last year.

Germantown's 38139 ZIP code saw the second-highest average price, with 174 homes netting an average price of $420,204, a 4 percent increase from $404,105 for the 171 homes sold in the same period last year. In Collierville, homes sold for an average price of $307,979 in the third quarter, a 4.4 percent increase from $294,888 in the year-ago period.

Interest rates. Low mortgage interest rates have helped homebuyers afford more in a home.

"It's still the low interest rates and the programs that allow first-time buyers into the market," said Sue Stinson-Turner, a Realtor with Crye-Leike's Germantown office and current president of the Memphis Area Association of Realtors, of the still-increasing sales figures. "The market has been very strong. Once again, it's good financing. Rates have been inching up, but when looking at 6 and 6 and a quarter, it's still low."

Interest rates might still be low, but gradual increases have some buyers taking a closer look at the market.

"It's drifting up, and I think people are starting to get concerned about that," Baker said. "I think that's going to cause people to start buying again. They're higher right now than they have been in probably two years. But they're still great rates."

PROPERTY SALES 74 196 20,828
MORTGAGES 86 244 23,989
BUILDING PERMITS 138 453 43,046
BANKRUPTCIES 64 174 13,354