Smith County home sales boom in March

Published on Monday, 17 April 2017 15:06 - Written by ROY MAYNARD, rmaynard@tylerpaper.com

Smith County home sales boomed in March, as mild weather and a seasonal uptick combined to push sales up more than 39 percent over February - and more significantly, 29 percent over March 2016.

A total of 241 homes were sold in Smith County in March, up from 173 in February, and up year-to-year from March 2016’s 187 homes sold.

“What we’re seeing is a greater number of homes being listed, and those homes are selling,” said Kyle Smith, chairman of the Greater Tyler Association of Realtors. “It’s driving up the number of home sales, and also driving an increase in the average price.”

The average price of homes sold in Smith County went from $211,669 in February to $218,888 in March. That’s an increase of about 3.4 percent.

“It tells me the limited inventory is continuing to put upward pressure on pricing,” Smith said. “With a continuation of minimal building activity on the part of our builders and developers, we’re going to see more of that in the near future. With rising interest rates, there’s going to be a double-edged sword on affordability. So waiting is a bad idea. The best thing is to move sooner rather than later.”

 

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The median home price also rose in March, Smith noted.

The median price - which can be a more useful gauge, because it’s the mid-point of all the homes sold, and isn’t skewed by unusually high or unusually low prices - also went up about 7 percent, from $178,000 in February to $189,900 in March.

Year-to-date closings also are up, at 560 closings through March, compared to 489 closings through March of 2016. This already puts Smith County on track for another record-breaking year, if trends hold.

“We’re seeing dollar volume of $38 million at this point in 2016, and $52 million in 2017,” Smith noted. “That’s incredible. That says consumer confidence is strong, and that people who may have been sitting on the sidelines have moved forward.”

The average days-on-market for homes in Smith County dropped a bit, from 71 average days-on-market in February to 68 days in March.

Those numbers are exactly flipped from 2016, which saw days-on-market rise from 68 in February 2016 to 71 days in March 2016.

Finally, the month’s inventory ticked up at 5.4 months, from February’s 5.3 months. Month’s 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.

“That’s a surprise,” said Smith. “With the sales increasing like they are, I would have thought the month’s inventory would have gone down. But that being said, it’s a pretty stable number for the last few months. The difference between 5.4 and 5.3 could be as little as a rounding error.”

In coming months, Smith added, home buyers and home sellers will be keeping an eye on interest rates, which are beginning to ease up, after an historically lengthy period of being kept low by the Federal Reserve’s monetary policies. In mid-April, the benchmark interest rate for a 30-year mortgage is 4.24 percent, according to CNBC.

“We’re beginning to see interest rates rise, and normally that usually means homes will slow down,” Smith said. “But because we know they’re going to continue to rise in the near future, up to the mid-4 percent to 5 percent range, people are clearly making their moves now.”

Twitter: @tmt_roy