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NETAR: Home prices hit nine-year high

Hank Hayes • Jul 17, 2017 at 8:30 PM

GRAY — Average home sale prices for June and the first half of 2017 hit a nine-year high while the lack of inventory had sales struggling to match last year's levels, the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors (NETAR) reported on Monday.

NETAR President Eric Kistner said demand remains high, but sales are bucking an availability headwind.

"In June, we had 4.5 months of inventory … but 10 to 11 months have traditionally been the local norm," he said in a release.

NETAR noted six months inventory is considered normal market conditions.

NETAR listed 630 closings for the month in the 11-county region it monitors. It was the third straight month closings have trailed last year's performance. Mid-year data show sales remain at record levels – but just barely. So far, this year there have been 2,985 closings on single-family homes. That's 69 more than last year's record performance and the highest mid-year mark since 2008 when NETAR began tracking the market.

June's average sales price was $179,691, up $14,184 from June last year. It was the highest monthly average since 2008 and the 10th straight month of year-over-year increases. The mid-year average was $165,832, up 5.1 percent from the first six months of last year. June's mid-year price average was the highest since 2008.

NETAR said June was also a banner month for condominium sales closings. There were 68 closings, the best month since 2012. During the first six months of this year, there were 295 condo closings. That's also the best first half of a year since 2013, according to NETAR.

June's average condo sales price was $122,577, down $136 from June last year. But, the mid-year average was $127,551. That's the best first half of the year average since 2013.

Kistner said sales at the lower end of the market during the past two years took a big bite out of the inventory that isn't being replenished at normal rates. "This is especially true in the $200,000 and below price range," he added. Listings in that range accounted for 80 percent of the inventory when sales began their record run mid-2015. It was 58 percent last month. Investors and consumers have been equally aggressive in snapping up homes priced under $200,000, which is crimping the inventory often targeted by first-time buyers.

"Pending sales are strong, but are not moving to closing as fast as normal due to an increasing number of conditional contracts," Kistner pointed out. "There were about 1,220 sales under contract last month. Typically, a pending sale moves to closing in a month to six weeks, and it's normal for about four percent of those contracts to fall through.”

The average home sold in June was on the market for 137 days, up from 133 in April. Average days on the market for condos was 134, down from 161 in May. Sullivan County is the market where homes are moving fastest, 112 days, according to Realtor Property Resource data.

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