Tyler sees record year for Home sales in ’13

Published on Monday, 13 January 2014 22:59 - Written by CASEY MURPHY cmurphy@tylerpaper.com

The Tyler area saw a record year in home sales in 2013, trampling 2006, the last year more than 3,600 houses were sold in the area, by nearly 2 percent.

According to figures released Monday by the Greater Tyler Association of Realtors (GTAR), there were 3,685 homes sold here last year. That’s a 9.38 percent hike from the 3,369 homes sold from January through December 2012.

The 2013 sales trumped 2006 by 1.74 percent, when 3,622 houses sold, according to records kept by the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. There were 3,595 homes sold in the Tyler area in 2007, followed by a steady decline until the area saw an uptick in 2012, when 3,162 homes sold.

“I think overall, the economy is just better,” Jason Gregory, president of the Greater Tyler Association of Realtors, said of the increased home sales. “I think overall, people are spending money.”

The median home price for the area in 2013 was $144,700, a 4.48 percent jump from the year before, when the median price of a local residential property was $138,500.

“We had a great 2013,” said Debbie Ezzell, broker/owner of RealEdge Real Estate. “I think all realtors across the board will tell you they had a great year.”

She said they are seeing continued growth in the New Year, experiencing one of the busiest Januarys they’ve seen in a long time.

“They hit the ground running,” she said.

Those that might have been looking at houses during the holidays are getting off the fence and buying now, which she believes has been spurred by interest rates. Although they have been creeping up recently, Ms. Ezzell said she expects them to hold steady this year.

She said she has also seen an increase in people buying larger homes in the price range of $300,000 or more. “When you see that, that’s when you know the market is really starting to strengthen,” she said.

Although interest rates have gone up “barely,” Gregory said he expects them to continue to be low this year. He said he has seen people selling their homes to upgrade to bigger houses or move to be closer to a certain school for their children. According to bankrate.com, the average 30-year fixed mortgage nationwide as of Monday was 4.46 percent.

Gregory, 40, is broker/associate at Gregory Real Estate and Property Management. Gregory began sitting on GTAR’s board seven years ago and worked his way up to president. He has worked in real estate since 2000 and was a title examiner for five years before getting his real estate license and running the family business with his mother.

Gregory believes it is both a buyer’s and seller’s market right now. Because interest rates remain good and sellers are setting good prices, they are getting what they ask for and buyers are happy to pay it.

“People are buying homes and putting money down the right way,” he said.

Ms. Ezzell, 61, is a past president of GTAR and is the state mediator for the Texas Association of Realtors.

She said it is more of a balanced market right now, with more people buying and getting good deals but also having to compete with other buyers. She said they have seen multiple offers on properties for the first time in years. Low inventory is also due to more buyers starting to move off of the fence. She said some sellers were hesitant to put their properties on the market before because of high inventory.

For the second consecutive month, inventory dipped into the single digits for the first time since April 2008.

Last month, home inventory for the Tyler area stood at 8.7 months, down from 9.4 months in November and 10 months in October. The local inventory had remained at about 10 months for the first 10 months of 2013.

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.

The last time local inventory was below double digits was in April 2008, when it was 9.8, according to the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.

In 2011, inventory soared at 14 months or more for five months.

Ms. Ezzell said Monday there is still plenty of inventory in Tyler but homes seem to be moving off the shelf faster than they were six months ago.

There were 239 homes sold in December, a 2.14 percent increase from the 234 houses sold in December 2012. It was a decrease of 5.53 percent from the 253 units sold in November.

The median home price of $143,000 reported in December was a 2.51 percent climb from the median price of $139,500 from the year before and the month before.

Gregory said Tyler has a lot of commercial construction going on because people are investing money in the economy. He said a lot of residential building is also seen throughout the area, especially custom homes in outlying communities like Whitehouse, Bullard and Lindale.

Gregory said he doesn’t know if the Tyler economy will be better this year, but he believes it will equal 2013. With that, he also expects the housing market here to remain strong.

The indicators of a strong local housing market are very encouraging, Ms. Ezzell said.