Home sales in Wichita area dip again in November but still up for year

12/18/2013 4:40 PM

12/18/2013 6:00 PM

Home sales in the Wichita area fell for the second month in a row, according to data released Wednesday from the South Central Kansas Multiple Listing Service.

The number of new and existing houses sold in November was 661, down from 672 a year ago, according to the MLS’ monthly report. In October, the number of homes sold was 721, down from 767 in October 2012, according to the same report.

But Todd Woodburn, a broker with Coldwell Banker Plaza Real Estate and the 2013 South Central Kansas MLS president, said 2012 was a record year for home sales, so the small dip in November sales is not disconcerting to him, even though it marks a second straight month of decline.

He pointed out that the number of homes sold in the first 11 months of the year – 8,300 – is still higher than in the same period in 2012, which was 7,551. That’s a nearly 10 percent increase year to date.

At the current rate, “we should end 2013 at pre-recession levels,” Woodburn said.

The report said 617 existing houses and 44 new houses were sold in November. That compares with 637 existing houses and 35 new houses sold in the same month last year.

The report also said that inventories for existing houses remain tight, at 4.7 months. An inventory rate below five to six months indicates a seller’s market. Inventory for new houses was 6.3 months in November, which indicates a balanced market and one that favors neither a buyer nor a seller.

Tim Holt, broker of Golden Realtors, said he thinks tighter inventories among existing houses was part of the reason fewer of them sold in November. He said inventories of well-maintained, existing houses priced between $100,000 and $200,000 are especially tight.

But a bigger cause of the November slowdown was the partial shutdown of the federal government, which he said prompted buyers, particularly those buying new houses, to temporarily put their purchases on hold.

Jordan Freed, team leader and CEO of Keller Williams Signature Partners, said the shutdown made it difficult for some of his agency’s clients to close on their home loans, largely federally backed loans such as FHA and rural development loans. “The government shutdown didn’t do us any favors,” he said.

Freed said a positive statistic to come out of the November report was the average sales price for existing houses in the area, which climbed to $135,658 from $124,402.

Holt said that at his office, December looks to be a positive month, as does all of 2013.

“It’s still going to end up an awful good year for us,” Holt said.

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