Wichita-area home sales jump 20% year over year

03/15/2012 5:00 AM

03/15/2012 6:37 PM

Wichita-area home sales jumped a little more than 20 percent year-over-year in February, driven by continued wintertime strength in existing home sales.

A total of 498 homes were sold in February, according to figures released Thursday by the Wichita Area Association of Realtors and the South Central Kansas Multiple Listing Service. That’s up 88 from February 2011, and up 77 units from an unusually strong January 2012.

“I think the biggest factor is pent-up demand,” said Gary Walker, residential general manager for the city’s largest broker, J.P. Weigand & Sons.

“Consumers have been patiently waiting for four years, and they realize there is a good chance interest rates will start rising.”

Walker also pointed to the unusually warm winter, the economy, low interest rates and the city of Wichita’s decision to offer a five-year, 100 percent property tax rebate to new home buyers.

New home sales remained soft, with 29 homes sold in February, up 10 from January. Existing home inventories remain slightly high, with 7.6 months of inventory available. New home inventories also remain quite high, at 10.3 months of inventory available in the market. New home sales have remained far off normal paces for more than a year, topping out at 50 units in April, May and August of 2011.

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