Local housing market has best January in six years
Online Staff Report
The local housing recovery continues as Rockford Area Realtors sold 232 properties in January, the most homes sold in January in six years, up 7.4 percent from 216 homes sold in January 2012.
January sales were up from 216 homes sold in 2012, 160 in 2011, 156 in 2010, 166 in 2009 and 210 sold in 2008. The previous January sales high was 2007 when 351 homes were sold. Including January, year-over-year sales have risen 18 out of the last 20 months.
The three-month average sales price was also up from last year, rising 5.1 percent from $94,371 in 2012 to $99,173 this January.
“After five grueling years, Americans are finally feeling optimistic about the housing market,” said Steve Bois, CEO of Rockford Area Realtors. “Home sales were up 18.7 percent from 2011 to 2012, the first year-over-year increase since the U.S. housing bubble burst in 2007. January continues that trend.”
While the real estate market in the midst of a major comeback, one housing statistic is troubling: the number of new home listings for sale. Local housing inventory fell to 1,897 properties in January, marking seven straight months that monthly inventories have dropped from the previous month and 28 straight months of year-over-year drops. January inventory levels are the lowest in nine years; the previous low of 1,892 was recorded in January 2004.
“There is one major challenge that could stall the housing market, that is a lack of inventory,” Bois remarked. “Housing sales are expected to be buoyed by move-up sellers and first-time homebuyers. Without adequate inventory and selection of homes in all price ranges, demand from these two key homebuyer segments may be discouraged.”
Bois said area brokers are pushing realtors to increase new market listings, encouraging them to spend more time building leads. Realtors typically spend an average of one to two hours per day building new leads and are being asked to increase that effort to three to four hours per day.
Data show that typically 30 percent of new listings enter the market from April to June, mirroring the traditional spring home-buying season. Almost 60 percent of listings are from April to September, each month significantly higher than the other six months of the year. There is significant opportunity is to build more listings in the slower months leading into and out of the heavy listing season, namely February, March and October.
Another January stat shows that the concerted realtor effort to build leads may be paying off. New listings in January numbered 445, up 14.7 percent from 388 last January, and up 31.6 percent over 338 new listings in December.
“Economists are now saying housing is the major tailwind to our nation’s overall economic recovery,” Bois said. “Realtors are strongly motivated to build new listings to keep this robust housing market moving.”
Posted Feb. 6, 2013
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