November 17, 2012

Wichita-area home sales rise in October

Wichita-are home sales moved higher in October, continuing what local Realtors hope is a sustainable trend.

Wichita-are home sales moved higher in October, continuing what local Realtors hope is a sustainable trend.

According to data released Friday by the South Central Kansas Multiple Listing Service, 757 existing and new homes were sold in October, compared with 558 homes sold in October 2011.

Existing home sales in October numbered 717, compared with 523 a year ago. And 40 new homes were sold, compared with 35 in October 2011.

The numbers helped Wichita build on the 2012 trend. Year to date, total Wichita-area home sales were 6,831, an 8 percent increase from the 6,303 homes sold in the first 10 months of 2011.

“The overall attitude of our agents is improving, and buyers are more optimistic than I’ve seen them in the last four years,” Don Edwards, broker and co-owner of Weichert Realtors Compass Point, said.

Edwards added that the MLS numbers were consistent with what his firm saw in October, and he thinks November and December — traditionally the slowest sales months of the year — are going to be strong for his firm.

“We think the market is moving up,” he said.

Gary Walker, vice president and general manager of J.P. Weigand & Sons, said the October sales figures are what he expected.

“It’s continuing that upward flow, and we’re guardedly optimistic about the market for next year and just continuing to enjoy it while it increases,” Walker said.

If there was any hint of concern with the October report, it was with area housing inventory, which was tighter than a year ago.

Housing supply also continued to move lower, the report said. There were 5 months of inventory for existing houses and 6.2 months for new houses. In October 2011, existing house inventory was 7.5 months and 9.8 months for new houses.

Tessa Hultz, CEO of the MLS and the Wichita Area Association of Realtors, said between five and six months of inventory is a balanced market — a market that neither favors buyers nor sellers. She said the housing inventory total for the area is five months when figures for both existing and new houses are combined.

“Sitting right at the nose of five (months), it’s hard to say” where inventory is headed in the months ahead.

Hultz expects the traditional slowdown in house sales to show up in the November and December reports. But if inventory continues to shrink in November, that could signal a market that will favor sellers.

“When we see the November numbers, that’s going to tell us a lot,” she said.

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