Tyler Home Sales Jump 7.6 Percent
By CASEY MURPHY
Tyler area home sales jumped 7.63 percent for the first half of 2012, compared to the first six months of last year.
Local homebuilders and Realtors weighed in on what they are seeing in the area.
"Things have really turned around dramatically in the past few months," Trent Williams, owner of Trent Williams Construction Management, said. "Our business is at an all-time high. In the last 11 weeks, we have completed and moved in 11 homes. Typically, we finish a new home every two weeks."
There were 302 units sold in June, a 3.5 percent slump from the same time a year ago, when there were 313 houses sold in the area, according to figures released Wednesday by the Greater Tyler Association of Realtors. However, home sales rose 4.5 percent in June from May, when 289 units were sold.
The cost of homes in the area also has spiked.
The median home price for the first six months of the year was $134,925, a 1.19 percent increase over the $133,333 median price seen the same time last year.
The median price for a house in the Tyler area was $149,050 in June, a 2.79 percent increase from the $145,000 price tag seen in June 2011. Last month's figure also was an 8.4 percent increase from May, when the median cost was $137,500.
The Greater Tyler Association of Realtors reported that the market numbers are still indicative of a strengthening real estate market. While Smith and Wood counties existing home sales for June experienced a slight decrease, pending home sales have jumped 6.25 percent. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale is usually finalized within one or two months of signing.
"Even with credit conditions being difficult, I'm seeing an increase in the number of interested buyers," Nancy Townes, partner/owner of Choice Properties in Tyler, said. "The shrinking inventory will have some impact on the home prices as multiple buyers will end up competing for the same house. This is still a great time to buy with low interest rates and sellers should be placing their homes on the market because there are buyers looking to purchase homes before interest rates begin to rise."
The Tyler area's home inventory stood at 12 months in April, up from 11.9 months in April and 11.6 months in March, according to the latest figures from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. 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.
Williams, a member of the Tyler Area Builders Association (TABA), lives in Hollytree and said there were nine homes for sale on his street at one time but now there are only three.
Carlton Edwards, TABA member and owner of Carlton Edwards Builder and Designer LLC, said he also has seen a dramatic increase in the homebuilding business.
"Our homes are way up," he said. "We typically have three going at a time. Right now we have five with two more that could start in 30 days."
Edwards attributes the upward trend to low mortgage rates making homes more affordable.
"What rates under 4 percent do is put a family in a position to buy and possibly buy more home than they could have afforded even a few years ago when rates were just under 6 percent," he said.
National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said the housing market is "clearly superior this year compared with the past four years."
"The latest increase in home contract signings marks consecutive months of year-over-year gains," he said in a prepared statement. "Actual closings for existing home sales have been notably higher since the beginning of the year and we're on track to see a 9 percent to 10 percent improvement in total sales for 2012."
According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was 3.68 percent, which is down from its record low in mid-may of 3.79 percent.
Smith County saw 22 foreclosures in May, double the 10 foreclosures in April and up from 21 in March, according to the latest figures available from RealtyTrac.