Wichita area sees gains in home sales in May

06/17/2013 2:16 PM

06/17/2013 2:17 PM

Sales of existing and new houses climbed 14 percent in May, according to a South Central Kansas Multiple Listing Service report released Monday.

The report said 849 houses were sold, compared with 744 in May 2012.

Of the total homes sold, 803 were existing and 46 were new. In May 2012, 700 existing houses and 44 new houses were sold.

“It’s just a very, very positive atmosphere right now … and I don’t expect it to let up for awhile,” said Gary Walker, vice president and general manager of J.P. Weigand & Sons’ residential division.

The report also said that conditions for a seller’s market in the Wichita area strengthened in May, with inventory for existing houses tightening.

The MLS report said there were 4.3 months of inventory for existing houses in May. That was down from 4.7 months in April. A balanced market, one in which the market favors neither sellers nor buyers, is five to six months of housing inventory, the report said.

Tessa Hultz, CEO of the Wichita Area Association of Realtors and the South Central Kansas MLS, said the lower inventory numbers combined with other measures – such as higher average sales price and fewer average days on market – lend credence to those who argue the market has made the switch.

“I think we can safely say we are in a seller’s market,” she said.

Hultz said the sales numbers the MLS has collected so far this month show June likely will improve on May’s numbers.

“If everything keeps moving the way it is now, we are going to move further into seller’s market,” she said.

While the data may show a seller’s market, not all agents and brokers agree that it is.

Kim Brace, broker of Weigand’s Derby office, said that from her perspective, it is a balanced market where there are equal numbers of buyers and sellers and neither has an advantage.

“It’s strong,” Brace said of the area home sales market. “Every agent in my office is working with someone, multiple someones. We are very busy, and it doesn’t matter necessarily what the price range is, $85,000 to $350,000.”

She added, however, that an existing house that goes on the market that is clean, well maintained and priced “correctly” doesn’t stay on the market too long.

“There’s buyers out there who are qualified and eager to swoop in,” Brace said.

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