Wichita area home sales were down for the third month in a row in 2014, but local real estate executives think the weather was to blame. They expect a significant upturn in sales in the second quarter.
The South Central Kansas Multiple Listing Service on Monday released its housing sales report for March. The report showed that the total number of homes sold last month fell 13 percent from the same month last year: 616 new and existing homes sold in March 2014, compared with 709 in March 2013.
The drop in March sales was strictly among existing houses: 575 last month, compared with 662 in March 2013. Sales of new houses, on the other hand, increased by one: 41 in March 2014 compared with 40 in the same month last year.
At the same time, the supply of existing houses for sale in March – 2,814 – was 12 percent below the 3,206 existing houses for sale in March 2013.
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“I think everybody both nationally and locally feels very strongly that these figures are all weather related,” said Gary Walker, vice president and general manager of J.P. Weigand & Sons. “The fact that inventory is down year over year, we just had a long winter and people didn’t get their houses listed. I’ve heard this from agent after agent after agent.”
The MLS data also shows that for the first three months of the year, the total number of homes sold was 1,638. That’s an 8 percent decline from the first three months of 2013.
“What we’re seeing happening in March would have been (sale contracts) written in February,” said Greg Fox, owner of Realty World Alliance and the current president of the MLS. “We are down a little bit, and I don’t know why. “It could be were are just going through a little bit of a lull.”
Walker said this isn’t the first time that first-quarter home sales in Wichita are down. But he said that this month “there is a ton of activity out there.”
“April is going to be a gangbuster compared to what March was,” he said. “I think we’re going to see a much, much stronger second quarter.”
Fox said he needs to see a few more months of sales report before he feels confident about which way the local housing market is headed.
“I feel OK where we are at,” he said. “I think weather delayed us some, and I think six months from now we’ll have a real good idea of where we’re at.”
Fox added that even if 2014 sales are below what they were in 2013, this year’s sales are still tracking ahead of 2012. According to the MLS data, in the first three months of 2012, 1,602 houses were sold in the Wichita area.
“Last year was a great year, maybe a recovery year,” Fox said. “This year, it’s hard to see yet, but it feels pretty good.”
According to other MLS data, the supply of new homes for sale in March was 292, compared with 277 in the same month last year.