Housing market shows some positive signsWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The housing market has shown some positive signs in the first four months of 2010 that have homebuyers, builders and real estate agents feeling cautiously optimistic about the future.
“I think it’s a positive sign but we have to be cautious about the outlook for the year. It’s still difficult in our market due to the local economy,” said Mary Ann Coleman, president of the Toledo Board of Realtors.
“Now is a great time to buy a home since interest rates and prices are low and inventory is high with more people putting their homes on the market,” said Coleman, vice president of sales for Welles Bowen Realtors with multiple offices in Northwest Ohio.
The 1,165 homes sold in the first four months of 2010 were nearly the same as 1,169 sold in the same period last year. However, the average selling price increased 16 percent from $79,850 to $92,220 with a 15 percent growth in volume from $93.3 million in 2009 to $107.5 million in 2010.
Last year, investors were buying less expensive homes on the market, which explains the increase in average selling price and volume in 2010 versus 2009, Coleman said.
The numbers for April were even better with 389 homes sold in 2010 compared to 335 sold in April 2009, a 16 percent increase. The average price increased 15 percent from $89,137 to $102,577 and volume grew 34 percent from $29.8 million to $39.2 million from 2009 to 2010.
All numbers represent sales of single family homes in Lucas County from the Multiple Listing Service data supplied by the Northwest Ohio Real Estate Information System.
The sales increase in the first four months was due largely to homebuyer tax credits that expired April 30. Those homes were sold to individuals and young couples using the tax credit, Coleman said. A lot more homes sold with the tax credits will close in May and June.
Area real estate agents continue to see more interest from potential home buyers, she added.
There are no plans to extend or renew the tax credits, according to Coleman, who just returned from the mid-year conference of the National Association of Realtors in Washington, D.C.
Coleman said real estate agents visited their congressmen and senators about the continuing need to improve the economy and change property rights related to foreclosures.
The increase in home sales is also an encouraging sign for area home builders.
“We’re cautiously optimistic about the market this year. We’ve had more inquiries from clients who want to purchase a new home,” said James Moline, president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Toledo (HBA).
His company, James E. Moline Builders, recently closed on the sale of a model home it built in the Deer Valley development and “got a good price for it,” Moline said. It is an Energy Star home built to meet the guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Moline said he constantly reminds customers that a new home will cost more than a used one just as with a car. The buyer gets more with new construction today with features that will save 50 to 60 percent on energy bills.
“New construction prices are still depressed, but they will increase when the demand increases,” Moline said.
“The purchase of existing housing stock will help to spur construction of new homes,” said Cindy Westfall, who started as the new executive officer of the HBA of Greater Toledo on May 17.