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VOL. 126 | NO. 219 | Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Home Sales Up 2 Percent For October

By Sarah Baker

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October home sales in Shelby County inched 2 percent higher compared to the same month a year ago, marking the fourth consecutive month with year-over-year improvement.

Shelby County registered 1,073 home sales last month, compared to 1,011 in October 2010, according to real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com.

October’s sales were also up slightly from September’s 1,069 sales. But year to date the housing market is down 7 percent from 2010.

Steve Brown, executive vice president of Crye-Leike Realtors Inc. and vice president of the Memphis Area Association of Realtors, said he anticipates more of the same slight increases moving forward, but it’s hard looking “into this cloudy, crystal ball.”

“Frankly, we had anticipated a stronger second half, but we’ll take any steady improvement,” Brown said. “Volume is less predictable than units. I think the market is consistently tracking somewhere around 1994 to 1996 volume – not ’04 or ’06 volume – but ’94 to ’96 volume.”

Average home sale prices were unchanged from the prior year at $121,191. Total sales volume for the month reached $125.7 million, a 3 percent increase from $122 million during October 2010.

The public consensus is that pricing has dropped across the board, Brown said, but that’s not completely accurate.

“I try to drill this into our agents and hopefully get it out to the public that you really do have to look at the submarkets, that you shouldn’t paint the whole market with one brush,” Brown said. “Because the average person just has no idea that the prices have actually gone up Downtown, Midtown, Southwind, Berclair, maybe even Raleigh.”

The county saw three home sales valued at more than $1 million compared to one in October of last year. The largest home sale was a 10,000-square-foot home that sold for $4.1 million in Germantown’s Forest Hill Woods and closed Oct. 14.

Frayser’s 38127 ZIP code had the most home sales of the county’s 34 ZIP codes with 81 total averaging $21,836 and totaling $1.8 million. But 27 of those sales, however, were bank – or foreclosure – sales.

Overall, bank sales continue to decline with 261 last month, down 16 percent from October 2010. Bank sales – which made up 24 percent of all sales in the county – averaged $59,610 and totaled $15.6 million.

And to Carol Lott, broker with Prudential Collins-Maury Realtors Inc.’s East office and president-elect of MAAR, banks have always had foreclosures and always will.

“They aren’t going away,” Lott said. “I think the decrease in foreclosures is another indication of stability. I think the lower foreclosure numbers are reflective of an overall improvement in the economy and the market place, albeit slow, it’s positive.”

Conversely, nonbank – or traditional – sales notched 775, an 11 percent uptick from 700 filed during October of last year. Nonbank sales averaged $142,064 in October and totaled $110.1 million.

The highest sales revenue across all sales – bank and nonbank – went to Arlington’s 38002 with $13.4 million, followed closely by Collierville’s 38017 with $13.1 million.

On the new home construction front, sales were up 20 percent from October 2010 with 61 recorded averaging $221,227 and totaling $13.5 million. But October’s totals were down 14 percent from September and 28 percent year to date.

Brown doesn’t bother with looking too much into new construction’s month-to-month totals, calling it a “bell curve.”

“If you look at appointments, at sales in general or at new construction closings, we’re kind of like farmers – it picks up in the spring and it starts dropping off in the fall and we all try to figure out how to get through the winter,” he said. “Also, there are very few (speculative homes) being built. These numbers are small by comparison to years past that again it’s hard to read too much into them. They didn’t happen unless there was a bank loan back four to six months ago. These are mainly pre-sales that just got completed.”

Meanwhile, 975 existing homes were sold last month, a 2 percent boost from October of last year. Home sales in that category averaged $115,039 and totaled $112.2 million.

Whether it’s new or existing homes, the local market is still in search of the “new norm,” Lott said.

“We didn’t get to this type of housing market overnight,” she said. “It’s going to take a while to figure out what normal is going to be. There are still buyers in the market place and those people are still buying homes. Real estate is local and locally things are getting better.”

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

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PROPERTY SALES 119 482 10,051
MORTGAGES 119 497 11,811
BUILDING PERMITS 268 1,056 21,366
BANKRUPTCIES 50 263 6,700

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