Report: 2012 home sales up 9 percent in Wichita area

The number of new and existing houses sold in the Wichita area increased in December, according to a report Wednesday from the South Central Kansas Multiple Listing Service.

The MLS report said 630 new and existing houses were sold in December, 10 more than in December 2011.

And the number of houses sold in 2012 was 8,181, a 9 percent increase from the 7,481 homes sold in 2011.

“I think people … they’re just getting more confident and accepting of the market we’re in, and interest rates are good and the weather has been good,” said Kirk Short, broker and co-owner of Re/Max Realty Professionals.

The report said 485 new houses were sold in 2012, compared with 514 in 2011.

The gains seen in residential real estate were in the sales of existing houses. Those numbers helped push the total home sales number higher: 7,696 existing homes were sold in 2012 compared with 6,961 in 2011, according to the report.

Housing inventory is at a balanced point, too. Tessa Hultz, CEO of the MLS and the Wichita Area Association of Realtors, said there are 5.5 months of combined new and existing home inventory. Typically, a balanced inventory means that the number of houses on the market favors neither buyers nor sellers.

Hultz said the 2012 total home sales figure represents “essentially the best year since 2009.”

Home sales usually slow beginning in October and don’t start to pick up again until February, largely because of the holidays and colder weather, especially in December and January.

But as Re/Max’s Short pointed out, there hasn’t been a lot of snow or ice on the ground, at least not for more than a day or two. “You don’t have these week-long, two-week-long periods of people not looking” because of the weather, he said.

Short also noted that starting last year and going into 2013, there seems to be a lot more people interested in buying and selling homes.

“The numbers of prospective buyers have increased so much … I think it’s all having an impact,” he said.

John McKenzie, broker and owner of Coldwell Banker Plaza Real Estate, said his company had a strong December and a good, overall sales year in 2012. He’s expecting 2013 to be at least as good.

“All I can tell you is we’re happy for it and if … we could reproduce 2012 (in 2013) we would be very, very happy,” McKenzie said. “I’m very bullish right now on what’s taking place.”