Area home sales rise in February; inventory shrinks

03/16/2013 8:17 AM

03/16/2013 8:17 AM

Forty-four more area houses were sold in February versus the same month a year ago, according to a South Central Kansas Multiple Listing Service report released Friday.

The MLS Statistics for February 2013 said 546 houses were sold, compared with 502 in February 2012.

“I think slowly but surely we are moving in the right direction,” said Patty L. Sanders, branch broker of Prudential Dinning-Beard Realtors’ east office.

Existing houses accounted for most of February’s sales, totaling 523, the report said.

New home sales for February were down by six units compared with February 2012, while 54 more existing houses were sold in the same period, according to the report.

Inventories of existing and new houses for sale were both lower in February 2013, compared with February 2012, the report said.

In February, 3,102 existing homes were listed for sale, compared with 3,567 in the same month a year ago. There were 280 active new homes for sale last month, and 300 in February 2012.

Sanders said she is somewhat concerned by the smaller inventory of existing houses, if it’s a trend that continues.

“We would like to see more houses going on (the market) than what we’re seeing,” she said.

Tessa Hultz, CEO of the MLS and the Wichita Area Association of Realtors, said that while inventory was lower in February, it’s not too low at this point to favor either buyers or sellers.

“I’m actually pleased with where we are,” Hultz said. “We are really seeing sales that are strong and steady. We haven’t seen a spike in sales, which is good.”

She said inventory for both existing and new homes is in the five- to six-month range, which is a “balanced market” and reflects a healthy inventory of homes.

Hultz said the relatively small but continued year-over-year sales increases that began last October aren’t a concern, either. That’s because there are no “spikes” in the number of homes sold in each month.

“If we went from 516 in January to 900 in February, I’d start worrying about a bubble,” she said.

The rise in home sales over the past five months, Hultz said, is more of a “slow, steady trend of getting back to where we were” before the housing boom — and bust.

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