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VOL. 127 | NO. 111 | Thursday, June 7, 2012

Homes Sales Continue Upswing

By Sarah Baker

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Shelby County home sales increased 25 percent in May compared to last year, as the historically busiest buying season kicked into full swing.

The Memphis area and its 34 ZIP codes registered 1,383 home sales last month compared to 1,109 recorded in May 2011, according to real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com.

Total sales revenue for the month was $171 million, a 30 percent increase from $132 million in May 2011. Average sales prices were up 4 percent to $123,975 from last year.

Suzanne Sheffield, associate broker with Crye-Leike Realtors Inc., said the Quail Hollow office alone closed its books last month on $37 million in sold properties.

“That was up from $11 million last May,” Sheffield said. “We are definitely experiencing an increase in sales. For one thing, this is our highest volume season, spring through summer through August, but I think consumer confidence is up as well. People aren’t as afraid to get a loan now; they’re more willing to take the risk.”

Year to date, home sales are up 17 percent, while average pricing was unchanged at $115,140. Fifty-seven percent of home sales were valued at $100,000 or less.

“I think home prices are increasing slightly. It’s not a huge increase, though,” Sheffield said. “But our inventory is down, so that’s good.”

Sheffield got in the business in October after teaching for 14 years. She had considered making the career move for years and has found opportunity amid current market conditions.

“I’ve been told by many people that I’ve really gotten in at a good time because it’s not so busy that I can’t learn the things I need to and be overwhelmed by just trying to keep up with sales,” she said. “I can really get the basics, and then once it does start to pick up, I’ll have all of that under my belt and feel confident about what I know.”

Cordova North’s 38016 ZIP code had the most homes sales with 91 averaging $125,278 and totaling $11.4 million. Collierville’s 38017 had the highest revenue with $25 million across 86 sales averaging $284,819.

Nonbank, or traditional, sales totaled 1,015 transactions in May, a 29 percent uptick from 788 in May 2011. Sales in that category averaged $144,588 and totaled $147 million, compared to $141,627 and $112 million the year prior.

East Central/Poplar Perkins’ 38117 tallied the most nonbank sales with 63 averaging $205,971 and totaling $13 million.

Sheffield is most active in University’s 38111 and Midtown’s 38104 ZIP codes. One trend she’s noticed is an increase in younger buyers, particularly in 38111.

“I’m really seeing a lot of singles, young married, or families with very young children,” she said.

Terry Stonebrook of Stonebrook Realtors LLC has also identified new homebuying trends among younger demographics, particularly the children of the baby boomers.

“If they have a good job and they have good credit, it’s a great time for them to buy if they know they’re going to stay in the area for a while,” Stonebrook said. “I think that’s one thing driving our market, that category of buyer.”

Also generating “dramatic” activity is the retiring baby boomer generation.

“So many of my friends are moving to where their grandchildren are,” Stonebrook said. “They may be in Chattanooga; Nashville; Hattiesburg, Miss.; or Illinois. I just have a lot of people selling houses and that’s the reason they’re moving.”

Bank, or foreclosure, sales accounted for 27 percent of total home sales in May with 368 recorded – a 15 percent increase from last year’s 321 sales. Bank sales averaged $67,122 and reached $24.7 million in sales volume.

Cordova North saw the most foreclosures, with 31 averaging $102,145.

Stonebrook expects heightened foreclosure sales to continue for several more years, as banks release shadow inventory from their backlogs onto the market. For homebuyers, bank sales provide an inexpensive price point to those looking for “fixer-uppers.”

There were 51 new home sales recorded in May averaging $237,513 and totaling $12 million. Sales of new homes increased 6 percent year over year, while average sales price increased 5 percent.

Arlington’s 38002 saw the most new home sales with 12 averaging $265,348.

Meanwhile, existing home sales totaled 1,332 in May, a 26 percent boost from 1,061 in May 2011. Existing home sales averaged $119,628 and totaled $159 million.

Overall, Stonebrook said 2012 is positioned to outperform 2011. He even calls the market “somewhat consistent,” a trend that should continue if sellers have homes that are priced right.

“If they’re updated to where there is not too much work involved to move in, with the low interest rates and the buyers that are out there, it’s pretty predictable you’ll sell it,” Stonebrook said. “But on the other hand, it’s not enough momentum to buy something where you have to do work or it’s priced too high because there’s enough others to choose from. I’m pretty optimistic, I think it’s a pretty solid market, but you do have to have your property in line with what people are buying so to speak.”

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

PROPERTY SALES 69 119 21,696
MORTGAGES 64 113 16,530
BANKRUPTCIES 28 64 6,781