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VOL. 127 | NO. 177 | Tuesday, September 11, 2012

August Home Sales up 21 Percent

By Sarah Baker

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Home sales in August were up 21 percent year over year, representing the eighth consecutive monthly increase from 2011.

Shelby County saw 1,487 home sales last month compared to the 1,228 homes sold in August 2011, according to real estate information company Chandler Reports, www.chandlerreports.com.

August home sales also posted a 5 percent increase from July. Year to date, home sales in August were 9,907, a 15 percent boost from the 8,594 in the same month last year.

“Like I tell people, if we have a bad month, one month is a blip, but eight months is a trend,” said Steve Brown, executive vice president of Crye-Leike Realtors Inc. and vice president of the Memphis Area Association of Realtors. “We had some people saying that they didn’t think the second half was going to be very good this year, but so far, we’re two months along and we’re still tracking well ahead of last year.”

Brown said inventory is down, days on the market are down, and agents are cautiously optimistic for growth.

“Any time you start hearing positive information about the real estate market for any sustained period over three months in a row, people start trickling back into the business,” he said. “We are above 3,000 members in the MLS for the first time since December of last year when dues were due. What that tells me is that people that had gotten out of the business, some of them are getting back into the business.”

Pricing wise, there has not been a tremendous increase, said Regina Hubbard of ERA Legacy Realty and MAAR president-elect.

“It’s going to take a little bit longer because we still have the foreclosures that are still out there that are affecting our values, etc.,” Hubbard said. “As they move through the system, I think we’ll continue to see the pricing and the values increase.”

Average sales price in the county for August was $124,713, down 8 percent from $135,711 last August. And 33 percent of the sales were $49,999 or less.

Yet total sales volume reached $185 million, an 11 percent improvement from $166 million in August 2011.

Inventory remains at about 7,500 units, Brown said, and in the upper-priced tier of the market, there’s not too much inventory to choose from.

“I’m not saying that every price point and every market is in a multiple offer situation, I’m not Pollyanna,” Brown said. “But you’ve got to get down on a really granule level to know what’s really going on in the market.”

The ZIP codes with the most activity in August were Collierville’s 38017 and Cordova South’s 38018, with 102 sales each. Germantown East’s 38139 had the highest average sales price with 38 sales averaging $383,629.

Bank (or foreclosure) sales notched a 21 percent increase to 398. Average pricing of bank sales also increased 5 percent from August 2011 to $67,037. Year to date, bank sales were up 12 percent.

Conversely, nonbank (or traditional) sales jumped 21 percent year over year, with 1,089 tallied in August. Average pricing in that category decreased 10 percent to $145,792.

Brown said bank sales affect the overall market picture and consumer sentiment.

“Between a quarter and a third of the sales are foreclosures and they skew the average down,” Brown said.

Indeed, foreclosures are still an issue, Hubbard said. The silver lining, however, is increased opportunities for buyers.

“I know people are still reluctant, but they need to take an advantage of what’s available to them right now,” Hubbard said. “All of these elements have come together and we probably will never see this again in our lifetime. We have a lot of out-of-town investors who are interested and looking and purchasing these properties at these historically low rates. They’re taking advantage of it, they can see it.”

On the new home front, 59 sold in August compared to 78 in August 2011. Newly constructed homes averaged $275,751 and totaled $16 million in sales volume.

Meanwhile, existing homes increased 24 percent year over year. Sales in that category reached 1,428, averaged $118,473 and totaled $169 million.

For the remainder of the year, both Hubbard and Brown see the area out-performing 2011. But, Brown stresses, “Activity is like a bell curve. Most of the action happens from March to September.”

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

PROPERTY SALES 28 290 16,197
MORTGAGES 33 165 10,087
BUILDING PERMITS 184 608 38,544
BANKRUPTCIES 33 125 7,597