Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Home Sales Improve (Tulsa World)

Home Sales Improve

Almost 750 area homes were sold last month. But prices have dropped 9 percent in the last year.

By ROBERT EVATT World Staff Writer Published: 12/13/2011

For the first time since January, total home sales this year have surpassed 2010 levels across the Tulsa area.

The Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors reports that 743 properties changed hands last month. That's down 24.1 percent from October but up 15.4 percent from November 2010.
Furthermore, the 11-month total this year reached 9,335, which was 0.46 percent above the 9,292 sales logged last year through November.

Metro Tulsa home prices, however, are significantly down from a year ago.
The year-to-date total of homes sold has trailed last year's number for most of 2011, falling behind by as much as 15 percent during June.

Pete Galbraith, president of GTAR, said he and other real estate professionals are encouraged by the increased sales, especially since it's happening after the effects of the first-time homebuyer tax credit, which expired in mid-2010, are long gone.
"It's been a slow and steady recovery, with no artificial stimulus to create transactions that might not have otherwise occurred," he said.

David Momper, a broker and owner of Re/Max Executives in Tulsa, said that while things have improved somewhat they still have quite a way to go.

"I still think people are being conservative with their spending and that they're sitting on scared money," he said.

He believes that extremely low interest rates and low home prices are helping the market.
In another positive sign, the number of homes that are under contract to sell is now at 833, or 33.5 percent ahead of the pending sales recorded a year ago.

Galbraith said he's seen signs of increased activity for December so far, even though sales typically slack off during winter.

"I've been absolutely surprised by the number of transactions we've been booking this month," he said. "I think people are starting to feel good again."

Although sales have been on the rise, prices took a significant hit. The average sales price of $138,801 is now 9.78 percent below November 2010, and the median price of $117,900 - the point at which half of the sales are greater than that figure and half are less - is down 8.78 percent.

Galbraith attributed the drop to a market that heavily favors buyers over sellers.
"People are still having to compete harder on price to get those homes sold, and they're having to sell them for less than they did a year ago," he said.

Momper said the low prices could stick around for a while.

"I think we'll see better sales in 2012, but we might see a little bit of a drop in pricing, depending on what happens with American Airlines and the election," he said. "Though any loss will be less than the national average."

The average home in the Tulsa area takes 64 days to sell.
There are now significantly fewer homes on the market, with 9,244 listed to sell, a decrease of 10.6 percent from a year ago.

If no more homes were listed for sale, it would take approximately 11.06 months to sell them all, compared to 12.28 months in November 2010.

Galbraith said the decrease in inventory is another sign that home sales are improving.

Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/business/article.aspx?subjectid=32&articleid=20111213_32_E1_ULNSlo64828

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