November home sales strong in Wichita

There have been a lot of unexpected variables in Sedgwick County's residential real estate market this fall: tax credits, deadlines, tales of economic recovery, agents in new places.

The variables produced strong November sales in a month when business historically tails off, brokers said Friday.

November new- and existing-home sales were 801 units, up 233 from the same month in 2008, when the impact of the national economic slowdown was first felt.

Those are heady numbers in a down economy and for a month when cold weather strikes and sales slow, brokers said.

But sales were down 39 units from October, as momentum slowed from the first-time homebuyer tax credit, according to figures released by the South Central Kansas Multiple Listing Service and the Wichita Area Association of Realtors.

Gary Walker, general manager of J.P. Weigand's residential division, and Coldwell Banker Plaza president John McKenzie said the November sales numbers were bound to be up year-over-year, with November 2008 hit hard by seasonal slowdowns and the first fallout from the national economic collapse.

"We had a great month last month," Walker said. "Sales up, volume up. This year, we did have the incentive of the tax credit and the rush to close deals before the Dec. 1 deadline before the credit was extended."

Weigand closed $54.5 million in sales last month, Walker said, up from $27.1 million in November 2008.

"We were up 39 units over the same period last year, and volume was up as well," McKenzie said. "We're very pleased with our performance over the same period last year."

Willie Kihle, president of Prudential Dinning-Beard Realtors, said business tailed off for them last month.

"I wasn't excited about November like I was October," he said. "Obviously, the seasonal (issue) had to be part of it. There were lots of busy Realtors in October, but sometimes they're closing and doing the types of things that you'll see slow the next month a little bit.

"Not a doom-and-gloom situation, really, just a slower month than I'd like."

New-home sales in the county were almost steady last month, down three units from October and from November 2008 at 91 units. A total of 710 existing homes were sold in November, far above the 474 sold in November 2008 but down 36 from October.

Traditionally, home sales begin to tail off in Wichita when cold weather arrives.

Last year, the first signs that buyers and sellers were streaming to the sidelines were felt in November, when sales plummeted to 568 units, down more than 250 from October 2008.

"It was also the seasonal thing hitting us last year without any incentive to buy whatsoever like we had this year," Walker said.