December’s area home sales end year on strong note

The number of new and existing houses sold in the Wichita area climbed in the final month of 2013, according to the South Central Kansas Multiple Listing Service.

The MLS report for December, released Wednesday, showed that 590 existing homes were sold for the month, which was one fewer than December 2012.

But new home sales totaled 52 for the month, a 33 percent increase from the 39 new homes sold in the same month a year ago.

In all, 642 new and existing houses were sold in December, compared with 630 in December 2012, the report said.

For the year, the total number of houses sold increased nearly 10 percent, from 8,181 in 2012 to 8,975 in 2013, the report said.

“We’re sure happy to see it, because it’s been a tough three or four years,” said Gary Walker, vice president and general manager of J.P. Weigand & Sons residential division.

Greg Fox, broker and owner of Realty World Alliance and the 2014 MLS president, added that the increases were healthy, not inflated ones that represented a bubble environment.

“ ’13 was getting back to more normal,” Fox said.

Fox’s one concern with the December report was the inventory numbers, especially among existing houses.

The report said existing inventory was 14 percent lower in December 2013 than in December 2012. New home inventory was also down in the same period, but by 1.5 percent.

“We are definitely more towards a seller’s market than we were a year ago,” Fox said.

What that means is if people are considering putting their homes on the market, they should do so now because, overall, homes are selling at pretty close to asking price, he said. And buyers shouldn’t go into the process thinking they are going to get a price that’s too much below asking. Nor should they wait too long to make an offer on an existing house that they really like.

“You may very well miss out, because inventory is moving pretty quickly,” Fox said.