February sales of pre-owned homes rise 10.3 percent

Hank Hayes • Mar 19, 2013 at 10:11 AM

GRAY - February sales of previously owned, single-family homes were 10.3 percent better than they were during February 2012, according to a Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors (NETAR) Trends Report.

The average sales price — $144,721 — was down 3.1 percent. Twenty-seven condominiums listed with the regional Multiple Listing Service were sold at an average price of $100,508.

NETAR President Barbara Hubbs said regional market conditions look a lot more like a "normal market" than they have in several years, and "they continue improving."

Hubbs said sales and prices have almost reached the 2008 benchmark — the year before the recession began depressing local markets.

"Monthly average prices and sales outperformed the same month in 2008 four times in the last 12 months," she added.

But one thing stifling prices, she noted, is foreclosure sales.

Foreclosures are sold at a discount — an average of 28 percent — and hold back the price other homes command. Last month, foreclosures accounted for 23.4 percent of all previously owned, single-family home sales in the region.

Overall, market conditions show buyer traffic is up, additional homes are being added to the inventory and real estate professionals are increasingly optimistic. And mortgage rates are holding at record lows.

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was 3.53 percent in February, up from 3.41 percent in January.

Hubbs said she expects housing affordability conditions in local markets to remain stable this year, which means qualified buyers with the median family income will have ample purchasing power to buy an average price home.

The average home sold during in February was on the market for 178 days, down from 186 days in January and six days more than it was during February last year.

The NETAR Trends Report monitors real estate in Washington, Sullivan, Johnson, Hawkins, Carter, Greene and Unicoi counties in Northeast Tennessee and Washington, Scott, Lee and Wise counties in Southwest Virginia.

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