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VOL. 125 | NO. 218 | Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Housing Market Tumbles 21 Percent

By Sarah Baker

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While October’s home sales are down – 21 percent from the same month a year ago – many local real estate agents are ramping up their marketing efforts to increase their customer base.

Shelby County saw 1,010 home sales last month, down 4 percent from 1,053 in September, according to the latest data from real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com.

Total sales volume for October amounted to $122 million, a 21 percent dropoff from $154.5 million the same month a year ago and an 8 percent decline from $133 million in September.

Last month’s average sales price was unchanged at $120,628 – compared to October 2009’s $120,139 average – but saw a 5 percent dip from $126,446 in September.

Jason Gaia, affiliate broker with the Prudential Collins-Maury Inc. Collierville office, said the local real estate market, especially average sales price, is holding steady.

He also prefers looking at a year-to-date rather than a month-to-month evaluation because of all the outside parameters the market has seen over the past few years.

Year to date, the county’s home sales are down 5 percent, with 11,538 sales through October 2010 compared to 12,179 for the same period of 2009.

Also, this past month only saw 51 new home sales, a 58 percent decline from October 2009, and a 41 percent dip from September’s 87 sales. The average new home price for the month totaled $233,206, with $12 million total sales volume.

Existing sales, however, only dipped 18 percent year over year, with 959 sales in October 2010 and 1,165 in 2009. Total sales volume in existing homes generated $110 million, with an average price of $114,641.

The recent election was a major factor in recent sale “limbo,” Gaia said. October also saw a great deal of refinancing. A significant amount of closings that were pending during October are now being transferred over into November due to the amount of new contracts and the lack of processors.

Gaia has had four closing get pushed back to November. But it’s a balancing act, he said. Since the numbers in the first of the year were up almost 30 percent because of the first-time homebuyer’s tax credit, it’s only natural that the market corrects itself in subsequent months.

It is also important to realize that real estate is local, with various submarkets.

Out of all of Shelby County, Collierville’s 38107 produced 70 sales, the most out of all 34 ZIP codes. Collierville also had the highest total sales volume – reaching almost $19.5 million.

Runner-up ZIP codes for highest number of sales were the University of Memphis area’s 38111, totaling 67 sales, and Raleigh’s 38128, which saw 63.

One market intangible lies in recent foreclosure trends that have been dwindling the entire year.

Foreclosures, or bank, sales totaled 338, down 30 percent from 483 in October 2009 and down 11 percent from 379 in September. Bank sales averaged $61,075 and totaled $20.6 million.

Traditional, or non-bank, sales totaled 672, a 16 percent drop from 803 in October 2009, but stayed consistent with September’s 674. Non-bank sales averaged $150,581 and totaled $101 million last month.

Billye Bryan, broker with Crye-Leike Realtors, prides herself on being knowledgeable with both short sales and foreclosures. She has carried a heavy load of listings, all of which are in “sellable condition” and are priced at realistic market value.

Bryan, who has been in the real estate industry for 38 years, is licensed in Tennessee, Mississippi and Georgia. Regardless of location, she never turns down a listing.

“I give the very same service to everyone,” Bryan said. “I do my very best to keep a home out in front of the public no matter what the price range is.”

Bryan has sold more year-to-date in gross sales than in 2008 and 2009 combined, bringing in 65 percent more through October of this year than this time last year. And that number is expected to increase.

“The Internet has been a real major factor, as well as keeping in touch and servicing the people and maintaining the calls that come in,” Bryan said. “It’s very important to be able to get up and get your work started early in the morning, and be available after 6 o’clock in the evening to either show or answer questions or follow-up.”

While many agents cut back on overhead during the recession, business for both Gaia and Bryan is holding strong.

“Right now, the main thing is to keep everybody out of panic,” Gaia said. “Granted, I’m not painting that the market is a bed of roses – it’s had its ups and downs. It’s an attitude. You can either sit back and it’s gloom and doom and cry about it all and not do anything about it, or you can say, ‘OK these are the cards that were dealt, let’s just play them to the maximum of our ability.’”

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

PROPERTY SALES 61 262 16,169
MORTGAGES 28 132 10,054
BUILDING PERMITS 88 424 38,360
BANKRUPTCIES 36 92 7,564