Report suggests home sales warming up with spring temperatures

Published 9:58 am Wednesday, April 23, 2014

After a chilly month, it’s warming up in Elizabethton and Carter County.
And not just when it comes to the weather.
A report released by the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors shows the city and county real estate markets rebounding in March after a cool February.
According to the report, 12 homes sold in Elizabethton and 37 in Carter County — both improved over February as well as last March.
Elizabethton’s March 2014 numbers compared to nine sales in February and eight in the same month in 2013; for Carter County, the 37 March sales was 17 better than February and 16 higher than March 2013.
And that’s with a spate of less-than-ideal selling conditions.
Association President Louie Leach noted that market reports trail sales by at least a month, and should pick up in the next quarter simply because weather caused some of last month’s sales to be put off.
He also said analysts expect moderate growth as the region moves into prime buying and selling season.
“We’re hearing reports of low inventories in some markets,” Leach said, “but Carter County listings in early April were 14 percent higher than last year.”
Average sales prices were down across Northeast Tennessee, the report said.
The report blamed part of the lower prices locally on foreclosure sales — which it said accounted for nearly a third of March’s county sales.
The county’s quarterly report shows sales were up 12.2 percent from the first three months of last year, with 83 homes sold during the first quarter. Elizabethton sales and prices are factored into NETAR’s Carter County report.
According to the report, market watchers are paying close attention to job creation.
Non-farm jobs were added during the first two months of this year, but the local labor market has been soft for more than a-year-and-a-half.
The national outlook is for a jobs pickup: If the local market follows suit home sales should trend up modestly over the course of the year, Leach added.
An average, previously owned, single-family home was on the market for 179 days before selling in March. Homes that are competitively priced right are selling much quicker, according to Leach.
The Tri-Cities’ housing market also shows signs of warming up.
“Even with disruptions caused by this year’s unusual weather the region’s housing market is showing growth,” Leach said.
Comparing the first three months of 2014 to the same months in 2013 shows strong sales but a softer average price this year.
Leach said first-quarter sales were the best since 2009 in the Tri-Cities and 103 sales better than the first three months of last year.

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