Area home sales still climbing

12/15/2012 7:28 AM

12/15/2012 7:30 AM

Wichita area home sales continue to climb, even during a time of the year when house purchases typically slow.

The November report from the South Central Kansas Multiple Listing Service said 672 new and existing homes were sold, up 23 percent from November 2011. The year-over-year increase was driven by an increase in existing home sales: 504 existing homes sold in November 2011 compared to 637 in November 2012.

And year to date, 7,518 new and existing homes have been sold in the area, compared with 6,859 in the same period in 2011, a more than 9 percent increase.

Tessa Hultz, CEO of South Central Kansas MLS and the Wichita Area Association of Realtors, said the November gains most likely were driven by continued, historically low interest rates, a warmer than normal fall, pent-up demand and an improving, albeit sluggish, economy.

“When it gets cold and slushy, people are less likely to go out and look at houses,” she said.

The one area of seeming weakness in the November report was a decrease in both existing and new home sales in November from the previous month. Sales of existing homes dropped by 11 percent and new home sales declined 13 percent from October. Home sales generally slow as the holidays approach, and then gain strength into the new year, especially in the spring.

Hultz said she thinks October was an abnormally strong month, and she views the dip in sales between then and November as insignificant.

While home sales continue an overall rise for the year, existing and new home inventories have been dwindling.

According to the report, there were 5.3 months of existing home inventory and 7.4 months of new home inventory. That’s lower than the 7.2 months of existing inventory and 8.1 months of new inventory in November 2011. A 5 to 6 month supply of homes is considered a balanced market. If the months of inventory figure is less than that, the market tends to favor sellers. If it’s more than that, the market tends to favor buyers.

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