Fewer homes are for sale, more people are buying and willing to pay more for them, one of the top economic forecasters said on Thursday.
George Samuel bought his home in Kingsport after moving to the area from Chicago. He said he’s seen the housing market recovery in action since about eight families have moved into his neighborhood in the past 10 months. "I’ve noticed in the last year the numbers of houses in our subdivision alone that have gone up and people have moved in to,” he said.
More homes selling and at higher prices is a sign that the market is healing, according to Dr. Lawrence Yun with the National Association of Realtors. "We are seeing more buyers come into the market, more transactions and as a result, the prices are beginning to move up,” said Yun.
The average sales price for homes in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia in July was about $159,000. That number if up nearly $8,000 from last year. "People feeling the stability of the economy is what improves our sales,” said Clarissa Brown, with the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors.
So far this year, 2,420 homes were sold, including 772 homes in Sullivan County, 692 in Washington County, Tennessee and 233 in Greene County. That’s 101 more homes than last year and 149 more than in 2010.
So who is moving in? "First time buyers trying to take advantage of very low prices, people who have been waiting to trade up now see an opportunity, and investors are looking to move into the market because putting money in the bank is getting no return,” Yun said.
While the number of homes being sold and prices are improving, one negative trend is how long homes are sitting on the market: an average of 173 days.
Foreclosures also continue to be a problem. So far this year, foreclosure sales have accounted for about 17% of all regional home sales.
Still, Yun said he hopes the overall improving trend continues. "Given the pent up demand over the past few years, this will be a multi-year recovery for the housing market."
The housing numbers could dip towards the end of the year. November and December tend to be slow months because of the holidays. Brown said sales tend to jump up in January and February.