Home sales stabilize

Published 2:24pm Monday, December 26, 2011

ST. JOSEPH — Sale prices of homes are fluctuating, but other factors may indicate the market may be stabilizing, according to Gary Walter, of the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors Inc.
“Since September, the number of houses sold has held steady, ranging from 190 to 199 houses sold per month,” Walter said. “Over the same time, the number of foreclosed transactions has been at or near the lowest percentages for the year.”
The local mortgage rates for the past three months have hovered just slightly above 4 percent.
“The average selling price took a significant dive in October, dropping 16 percent from September, but now has bounced back 15 percent in November to $170,600,” Walter said.
The median selling price over the three months held almost even for September and October, but dropped 19 percent in November to $88,000.
“For the most part this year in November, our market surpassed where we were in November 2010. The number of houses that sold and closed jumped 15 percent over the number sold in November 2010 (193 vs. 168). This brings the market back to about where it was November 2009.”
The local market total dollar amount soared 24 percent in November over last year ($32,925,704 vs. $26,543, 475). While the average selling price was up 8 percent ($170,600 vs. $157,997), the median selling price declined 7 percent ($88,000 vs. $95,000). Year-to-date numbers, from August to November, have seen the market keep pace with what the market was doing a year ago.
Walter said this cumulative trend suggests the market is moving to a more stable, sustainable environment. Comparing year-to-date figures, the number of houses sold (2,144 vs. 2,122), dollar volume ($339,871,599 vs. $340,160,177)), and average selling price ($158,522 vs. $160,302), were all within 1 percent of the same figures at the close of November last year. The only exception is the year-to-date median selling price, which fell to $98,900 from $103,750 a year ago — a 5 percent drop.
The median price is where 50 percent of the homes sold were above that price and half were below.
Nationally, existing-home sales rose again in November and remain above a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors.

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