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VOL. 127 | NO. 74 | Monday, April 16, 2012

Housing Improves 20 Pct. in Q1

By Sarah Baker

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Local home sales saw a 20 percent boost during the first quarter, with increases in both traditional and foreclosure sales, and agents suggest that among such low inventory levels, it’s a move in the right direction.

Shelby County registered 3,178 sales from January to March, compared to 2,657 during the same period last year, according to real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com.

“Right now, part of it is that inventory levels right now are extremely low as compared to normal,” said Jason Gaia of Prudential Collins-Maury Inc. “There aren’t enough properties out there, so we’re seeing movement across the board.”

To put it in perspective, the Memphis Area Association of Realtors has about 6,800 listings right now compared to 13,000 listings five years ago, said John Linthicum with Crye-Leike Realtors Inc.

“We don’t have a glut on the market because we have half of what we used to have on the market,” Linthicum said. “I think there are a lot of people out there that are just saying, ‘I’m not going to sell my house right now.’ The people that are in the market now have to be in the market because they’re getting a divorce or they’re transferring. Or maybe they’re really motivated to move up and they realize that they’ll probably have to take a hit on the house they’re selling and be able to buy their new home and make it up there.”

Q1’s average sales price seems to support that theory. It dipped 7 percent to $108,686 in Q1 from $116,503 in 2011. Total sales volume reached $345 million in Q1, a 12 percent increase from $309.5 million last year.

Even though it’s not perceived that way because of pricing, Gaia said some markets are even considered a seller’s market by definition due to such low inventory levels.

“In some markets, you’re sitting in some areas with four or five months of inventory on hand, which by definition is a seller’s market,” Gaia said.

Nonbank, or traditional, sales totaled 2,230 in Q1 – a 19 percent uptick from Q1 2011. Sales in that category averaged $126,865 and totaled $283 million.

But also notching an increase were bank, or foreclosure sales. Bank sales totaled 948 during Q1, up 21 percent from 784 last year. The average bank transaction sold for $65,923 and the entire category totaled $63 million in sales volume.

Linthicum has been selling houses for 33 years and usually shies away from short sales due to the “inefficient system” that many of the larger banks have in place. But that’s not to say foreclosures aren’t fair game.

“I don’t shy away from foreclosures at all because those houses are for sale, the banks work with you, they counter-offer and it’s almost like a normal sale,” Linthicum said.

Out of the county’s 34 ZIP codes, Frayser’s 38127 saw the most activity, with 215 sales. Collierville’s 38017 brought in the highest sales volume, with $50.5 million, while Germantown East’s 38139 saw the highest average sales price at $374,795.

Existing home sales reached 3,026, a 21 percent increase from 2,496 in 2011. Existing home sales averaged $101,801 and totaled $308 million.

New home sales dipped 6 percent to 152. Those sales averaged $245,756 and totaled $37 million sales volume.

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

PROPERTY SALES 51 333 19,446
MORTGAGES 68 383 22,433
BUILDING PERMITS 138 688 40,004
BANKRUPTCIES 34 238 12,486