Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sales of Existing Homes In San Antonio Have Slowed

From the San Antonio Express News' Jennifer Hiller comes:

San Antonio home sellers and real estate agents aren't quite singing the summertime blues, but sales of existing homes slowed considerably in July.  The number of home sales dropped 25 percent in July when compared with the same month in 2009, dipping to 1,491, according to data released Tuesday by the San Antonio Board of Realtors. 

The likely culprit of the unseasonable doldrums: the federal government's $8,000 carrot offered to first-time home buyers and $6,500 to some current homeowners, which was available to those who could go under contract by the end of April.  The tax credits boosted the number of home sales in the springtime, but most of those deals had closed by the time July rolled around.  “What we saw in the spring market was a surge in sales for the tax credit,” said Marietta Alba, SABOR chairwoman. 

But sales volume is still up 6 percent for the year, with 10,922 sales so far compared with 10,297 by the same time in 2009.  The expiring federal tax credits are also a likely reason the median sales price rose slightly, to $160,800.  Alba said that July saw an unusually high number of sales of homes above $500,000 — a group of buyers unlikely to be swayed by the federal tax credit — and a lower number of sales below the $200,000 mark most popular with first-time buyers. 

Earlier in the year, the number of first-time buyers in the market helped push the median price down slightly.  As the market moves out of its traditional peak season, Alba said SABOR expects the rest of the year to be steady, if unspectacular. 

“Our interest rates are still remarkably low and we're glad about that. Job growth continues,” Alba said. “We're still a steady and stable market.”  Homes sold slightly faster in July than they did in 2009, in an average of 84 days, which was 11 fewer than last year. And there were 1,430 pending sales at the end of July. 

Real estate agents and home builders both have noticed a drop-off in business from the usual summer frenzy. Most home buyers try to close a deal and move before the school year starts.  “I think we saw an increase until the month of May. In June we saw a drop,” said Richard Zepeda, an agent with Keller Williams Heritage.  Now Zepeda said he has noticed that builders again are offering good incentives to buyers and larger-than-usual agent commissions, as high as 7 percent, to spur interest. 
“The interest rates are so historically low,” Zepeda said. “It's the best time to buy if you can, especially while other people are still sitting on the fence.”