MAAR: Home Sales Fall 1.4 Pct.

By Sarah Baker

The housing market appears to be leveling off, as the Memphis Area Association of Realtors report only a 1.4 percent decline for the month.

While the association’s January home sales report was filled with negative numbers across the board, the declines weren’t all bad. For example, the metropolitan area saw a drop in bank sales, a sign that the real estate market may be on the verge of recovery.

The Memphis area recorded 960 home sales in January, down slightly from 974 in January 2010, according to the association’s MAARdata property records database. The MAARdata system includes records of all property transactions in Shelby, Fayette and Tipton counties.

January’s total sales dropped 3.4 percent from 994 in December.

“The market is slow right now,” MAAR president Leon Dickson said in a statement. “The homebuyer tax credit was in play a year ago. Unemployment remains a factor and consumer confidence obviously isn’t as high as we would like to see it.”

Pricing also was hit hard, with the average sales price off 6.9 percent from January 2010.

Homes last month averaged $124,756 and totaled $119.8 million, down 6.9 percent from $134,009 in January 2010.

January existing home sales totaled 924, a 1.7 percent increase from 909 the same month a year ago. The average sales price, however, dipped 3.8 percent to $119,953 from 124,724.

New home sales for the month declined a staggering 44.6 percent from January 2010, with just 36 homes sold, down from 65. Average sales price also dropped 6 percent to $248,044.

One of the few bright spots in January’s numbers appeared in the bank (or foreclosure) sales. The area saw 296 bank sales, a 20.4 percent decrease from 372 in January 2010.

The local inventory for January was 8,382 units. Pending sales as of Friday was 1,278.