The predicted April spike in Wichita home sales came to pass, according to monthly sales totals the Wichita Area Association of Realtors and the South Central Kansas Multiple Listing Service released Wednesday.
A total of 891 homes were sold in the area last month, up 34 percent from the 667 homes sold in April 2009.
Local brokers and agents have said for months that tax credits would drive the April numbers higher. And they were correct: A surge from buyers rushing to beat the April 30 deadline for sales contracts to qualify for $6,500 and $8,000 homebuyer tax credits drove sales to its highest point since June 2009.
Tessa Hultz, the new WAAR chief executive, attributed the sales spike to "the tax deduction, record low interest rates and the understanding that home prices have stabilized, and in some areas are moving upward."
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"The tax credit absolutely did influence the market, not just for first-timers but for the repeat buyers," said Penny Johnson, a broker for Keller Williams in Wichita
"It gave them an incentive to get off the sidelines. It got a lot of people off the fence, created a lot of last-minute scrambling. Agents were writing two or three contracts in that last week wrapping up people they'd been working with for months."
It's the second-highest monthly home sales total in the Wichita area since 990 homes were sold in August 2008, just before the economy tanked.
And the local numbers are similar to a regional study announced earlier this week by Real Trends, a Colorado-based analyst. That group registered a 30.6 percent sales increase in the Midwest over April 2009.
The April figures reflect only a modest gain in new home sales, up nine from the 76 sold in March. However, existing home sales hit a 12-month high at 806.
The April median sale price of new homes decreased slightly to $188,048, down from $188,561 in March.
Existing and new home inventories were down from March, WAAR said, but the existing-homes inventory is 11.6 percent higher than a year ago at 3,675 homes.
Meanwhile, new home inventories are 35.2 percent lower than a year ago at 469 homes, a product of tight credit and a slow market for new home builders.
Johnson said May sales numbers look "good, but not like April."
"I've had people tell me that it's definitely quieted down since the 30th, but that's expected," she said. "I think a lot of agents are busy this month doing the transactions to get the April contracts closed."
The Wichita market won't disappear once the tax credit business is wrapped up, Johnson said.
"I think that as long as rates are at 5 percent, people will realize it's a smart buy, a bargain that probably isn't going to last forever," she said.