Wichita area home sales edge higher for the year

The Wichita homes sales report for August contained a couple of good nuggets for sellers: Total home sales were up from a year ago, and new and existing housing inventories were lower.

Tessa Hultz, CEO of the Wichita Area Association of Realtors and the South Central Kansas Multiple Listing Service, which puts together the monthly report, said Tuesday that the last time there was five months of inventory for both new and existing homes was in July 2010.

“Basically August was a really good month,” she said. And with lower inventory in August, “we’re on the cusp of what we would call a seller’s market.”

The report said the number of new and existing homes sold through the first eight months of 2012 in the Wichita area was 5,399. That compares with 5,034 in the same period a year ago, a 7.3 percent increase.

In August, 768 existing homes were sold, compared with 702 in August 2011. New home sales totaled 45, compared with 50 in the same month a year ago.

Gary Walker, vice president and general manager of the residential division for J.P. Weigand & Sons, said his firm expected August to be a good month for Wichita home sales because it was seeing good sales numbers internally.

And home sales at Weigand have continued to be strong in the first half of September.

“We’re very pleased, and the activity is continuing,” he said. “We’re not seeing a big drop off.”

He said it’s “a little concerning” that housing inventory is getting low, especially on the new homes side. “You like to see that stay in balance.”

Otherwise, he said, you get frustrated buyers and multiple offers. And getting new housing inventory on the market takes time. “You can’t just put a new home on the market, you have to build it (first),” Walker said.

For home sellers, though, the lower inventory typically means it’s easier to sell their homes and sometimes at higher prices.

When there isn’t balance to housing inventory, “it’s a little hard to keep everybody happy under those circumstances,” he said.

From an industry perspective, Walker said it’s good to see housing inventory shrinking.

“I think it’s really healthy for the housing industry that we’ve come to this situation,” Walker said. “The fact that the market has been relatively poor, at least it shows you things are selling. And that’s a good thing.”