Home sales spike in October

TYLER (TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH) - Carlton Edwards has had his best year in five years selling his custom and spec homes in the Bullard area.

With home sales continuing to increase throughout most of 2012, Tyler area home sales in October saw the biggest year-over-year gain since November 2011.

In October, 289 homes sold, a 27.3 percent spike from the 227 units sold in October 2011, according to figures released Thursday by the Greater Tyler Association of Realtors.

The last time Tyler home sales saw a more significant increase in home sales was November 2011, when the area saw 29.2 percent more homes sold than the same time the year before.

Edwards, 57, owner of Carlton Edwards Builder & Designer, LLC, said he normally builds five to six homes in the Oak Grove and Katima estates in Bullard per year and will almost double that number this year, with nine homes.

Edwards said he had a spec home he built in 2008 sit on the market for 15 months, but the other 10 spec homes he has built in the area since 2009 have sold within 30 days of completion. Since starting his business here in 2006, he said 2008 and 2009 were the slowest years for business. But, he has seen a gradual increase since 2010 and "2012 has been the best year I've had since 2007," he said.

Ester Johnson, owner of EJ Homes and a member of the Tyler Area Builders Association, said the continuing trend in home sales is great news for East Texas, but she is not surprised.

"The numbers indicate that the housing market is coming back and that people's confidence in the economy is growing," she said. "But I also believe that our market fared better than most and that our market slowed, but never actually stalled."

Mary M. Smith, Realtor with RE/MAX Tyler, said the data from the Greater Tyler Association of Realtors continues to indicate a strengthening real estate market. Existing home sales for eight of the past 10 months have seen a year-over-year increase, she added.
Last month's sales fell 2.85 percent from the 281 houses sold in September.
The median home price for October was $135,900, a 2.18 percent increase from the median price of $133,000 seen here in October 2011, and a 4.9 percent jump from the $142,900 in September.

Ms. Smith said the housing inventory continues to decrease. The total number of homes available in October was still trending down about 5 percent from October 2011. The year-to-date median sales price is up, reflecting the trend toward increase prices when inventory shrinks, she said.

The Tyler area's home inventory stood at 11.6 months in September, the latest month for which figures from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University were available. That is down from the 13.3 months seen the same time last year.

Home inventory is how long based on the past year's sales rate it would take to clear out existing inventory, with no more homes introduced into the market.

Despite the decrease in inventory, homes are showing a slightly longer time on market. Ms. Smith said the increase is not necessarily an indication that sellers are experiencing difficulty in finding the right buyers for their homes quickly; it is more likely because of the longer lead times necessary for lenders to approve mortgage loans. In the past, lenders have been able to process the loans in about 30 days, but now real estate agents estimate most loans taking 35 to 40 days, with some taking as much as 60 days.

Smith County saw 10 foreclosures in October, the same amount it saw in September, according to the latest figures available from RealtyTrac.

The National Association of Realtors is predicting continued recovery for the housing market through the coming years, assuming there are no further limitations on the availability of mortgage credit.

"Existing home sales, new home sales and housing starts are all recording notable gains this year in contrast with suppressed activity in the previous four years, and all of the major home price measures are showing sustained increases," National Association of Realtor's Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a prepared statement.

Yun said he sees no threatening signs for inflation in 2013 but projects it to be in the range of 4 percent to 6 percent by 2015.

"The huge federal budget deficit is likely to push up borrowing costs and raise inflation well above 2 percent," he said. "Mortgage interest rates are forecast to gradually rise and to average 4 percent next year, and 4.6 percent in 2014 from the inflationary pressure."

This expected increase in mortgage interest rates, along with the anticipated increase in housing prices, continues to indicate that individuals interested in purchasing a home should act quickly in order to take advantage of current market conditions, Yun said.


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