Home sales expected to continue steady climb

02/28/2013 3:21 PM

02/28/2013 3:22 PM

Expect to see more new homes being built in the Wichita area, and overall home sales to continue a steady climb up in 2013, said executives of the area’s biggest real estate firms.

The year got off to a good start when the South Central Kansas Multiple Listing Service reported that January 2013 existing home sales were up nearly 24 percent from a year ago and new home sales were flat.

In 2012, overall home sales increased 9 percent compared with 2011, according to MLS statistics.

Executives from Prudential Dinning-Beard Realtors, J.P. Weigand & Sons, and Coldwell Banker Plaza Real Estate said they look for moderate growth this year. Overall, they expect sales activity to continue growing, helped by continued low interest rates, a slowly improving economy and housing inventory that contains fewer and fewer foreclosed houses.

“I think Wichita will be in keeping with its past performance,” said John McKenzie, owner and broker of Plaza Real Estate. “I don’t see huge jumps and swings one way or the other.”

McKenzie said he’s expecting anywhere from 3 to 5 percent home sales growth.

Willie Kihle, president of Dinning-Beard, said his firm grew its sales 50 percent in January, compared with January 2012. “We would love to extrapolate those numbers throughout the year,” he said. Instead, he expects growth along the lines of “single digits,” he said. “Everybody is still kind of holding their breath about the economy and jobs,” he said.

Angie George, Dinning-Beard’s new-homes manager, said she is seeing more people interested in new homes, an uptick in the custom home market and a willingness by people to put their homes on the market to purchase a new house – activities she said she hasn’t seen much of in the past few years.

“Barring something unforeseen, it’s certainly giving us a lot of confidence that this year is going to be better than last year,” George said.

Gary Walker, vice president and general manager of Weigand’s residential division, echoed his peers.

“There is no reason at all to believe that things won’t be better in 2013,” Walker said.

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