Tyler-area home sales jump almost 15 percent

Published on Tuesday, 20 August 2013 00:06 - Written by CASEY MURPHY cmurphy@tylerpaper.com

Tyler-area home sales skyrocketed by 14.6 percent in July compared to the same time last year. It was the biggest surge for the area in six months.

There were 369 homes sold last month, while 322 units sold in July 2012, according to the latest figures released Monday by the Greater Tyler Association of Realtors (GTAR). Last month’s sales also were a 10.15 percent spike from June, when 335 houses sold in the area.

“In 2013, we have seen more consumer optimism and a swing from a strong buyers market with a large inventory of homes to a more balanced market,” Andrea Lynch, Realtor with Rose Capital Realty, said. “The majority of our listings are going under contract within a few days or weeks.” Last month was the highest jump in home sales since January, when the Tyler area saw a 16.57 percent spike in sales from the year before. July’s figures came close to matching up with April, when there was a 14.23 percent increase in sales from the same time in 2012.

Ms. Lynch said properties that are the most “move-in ready” and priced slightly below the competition are selling 95 percent to 99 percent of listing price.

“Buyers seem to be making better offers due to increased multiple-offer situations,” she said. “We need more marketable listings to keep up with strong buyer demand for well-maintained, updated and appealing homes in Smith and surrounding counties. It’s a good time to buy and sell.”

July’s median home price was $152,000, an uptick of 1.37 percent from the year before, when the median price was $149,950. Last month’s prices were a 3.18 percent decrease from the $157,000 median home price seen here in June.

Jim Hughes, president of Jim Hughes & Associates and Tyler Area Builders Association member, said since the beginning of 2013, he hasn’t gotten as many calls about building new homes as he has about remodels.

“What that tells me is people are still not able to get the full value for their homes versus the cost of new construction,” he said. “So we are seeing a lot of people remodeling and staying put until prices come back up.”

However, the number of “spec” houses available from builders has dropped from what it was a few years ago, meaning there are fewer new homes sitting for sale, Hughes said.

“I think builders have been much more cautious for the last few years, so these numbers are good to see,” Hughes said. “Specifically, fewer homes on the market and the number of days on the market are good to see.”

David Humphrey, president of Johnson Humphrey Homes, agreed that the number of spec homes built in the past few years has decreased, driving up demand for new construction.

“People are realizing they can get a lot of square footage for the money right now when it comes to new homes,” he said. “We’ve just gotten really busy and a lot of people are building, so the subs are busy, too. Things are good.”

Judy Steger, with Century 21 Town & Country Realty, said her business has seen a significant increase in volume since January. “It’s great to see the revival of confidence in our markets and I’m thoroughly enjoying helping buyers and sellers reach their goals,” she said.

The Tyler area’s home inventory stood at 10.8 months in June, according to the latest figures available from Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. That is up from May, when it stood at 10.7 months.

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.

“My business was slow for the first half of the year, but has picked up considerably,” Cathy Shipp, of Cathy Shipp and Associates, said. “Due to the fact that I prequalify my buyers and prefer local lenders, I haven’t had any problem with getting financing.”

While August and September are typically slow for new home construction, Hughes said he anticipates a good last quarter.