A few more home sales contracts were written nationally in July, giving some hope that the housing market might not bottom out after federal tax credits expire.
But not in Wichita, where brokers say business has slowed significantly year-over-year as a pall continues to hang over the city's aviation industry.
Nationally, pending home sales, a measure of sales contracts that have been signed but not closed, rose modestly and unexpectedly in July, according to the National Association of Realtors.
NAR's sales index was up 5.2 percent over June, but remains significantly below 2009, down 19.1 percent.
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In the Wichita area, early figures from the South Central Kansas MLS indicate about a 15 percent dropoff in sales last month from August 2009.
But like the national trends, sales jumped about 40 units last month over July of this year.
"I suspect that the fall months will be on pace for about the same productivity until the elections," said John McKenzie, president of Wichita's Coldwell Banker Plaza Real Estate.
But local brokers expected more business from historically low interest rates, said Gary Walker, residential general manager for Wichita's J.P. Weigand & Sons.
"It's sure not as good as it should be for rates as low as they are," Walker said. "It's a little disappointing."
A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was at 4.43 percent Sept. 3, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
Aviation uncertainty continues to plague the Wichita market, including Hawker Beechcraft's recruitment by the state of Louisiana and union also contract negotiations at Cessna.
"I don't lose sleep at night worrying about things I have no control over," Walker said. "But sure, Hawker is a big part of Wichita and it has been since the Beeches started it. We don't want them to leave."
The road to recovery in markets nationwide remains long, said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun in a statement.
"Home buyers over the past year got a great deal, and buyers for the balance of this year have an edge over sellers," Yun said.
"For those who bought at or near the peak several years ago, particularly in markets experiencing big bubbles, it make take over a decade to fully recover lost equity."
Walker said sales traffic remains erratic.
"The traffic is really hard to evaluate," he said. "It's up at a lot of the new home areas, but many showings are what I'd call inconsistent.
"Some are getting real good traffic, others not so much and it's really hard to explain."
Many analysts are reluctant to look beyond the current month.
"It's just going to be a very up-and-down thing," Walker said. "It really is month-to-month."