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First-quarter average housing prices best since 2008

Zach Vance • Apr 17, 2017 at 5:48 PM

A mediocre February showing by the local housing market certainly didn’t carry into March. 

Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors President Eric Kistner announced Monday that March’s previously-owned, single-family home sales were up 56.1 percent compared to February. 

Even more, March’s average sales price was $157,792, a $13,472 increase over the same month last year. That production helped propel the region’s first-quarter average sales price to its highest point since 2008, the report stated. 

Kistner called March’s sales “eye-popping.”

"Closings on single-family home sales were 23.2 percent better than March last year. It was also the best March since NETAR began reporting on local market conditions nine years ago, a cap on the best first quarter since 2008, and the eighth-best month for closings since the recession,” Kistner said. 

According to NETAR’s Trends Report, there were 526 total closings in March, about 99 more than the same period last year and 189 more than February. 

Three months into 2017, 1,226 sales have closed, up 118 compared to last year. 

Condominium sales even saw a slight increase with 44 March closings, an improvement of two sales from 2016.

The biggest challenge facing the region’s housing market right now is inventory, Kistner said. 

"It has improved slightly, but it's still tight — just not as much as some recent news reports say. We began seeing new listings pick up in November. That continued through February. We're still almost 1,000 active listings from last year's total but the months of inventory picture has improved,” Kistner said. 

Months of inventory is measured as the time it would take, using the current sales rate, to sell all active listings. In March, the 11-county region monitored by the Trends Report had 7.3 months of inventory, which was unchanged from February.

An April Associated Press report highlighted a shortage of houses nationwide, with the largest declines in inventories seen at affordable price points normally preferred by new buyers. 

Figures gathered by the AP showed active listings on the east side of Johnson City falling 25 percent in a year. Meanwhile, Kingsport listings along Lynn Garden Drive followed a similar trend, dipping 33.3 percent.

Kistner said March’s sales figures were a positive sign for the local housing market.

"That's the best number we've seen since April last year,” Kistner said. "An improving economy and increased consumer confidence are enabling our region's housing market to continue the best growth we've seen since 2008, the year before the Great Recession hit the local economy.” 

A breakdown of city and county sales during the first quarter showed Sullivan County with the largest growth, a 66-sale increase over last year.

Johnson City’s 26-home sale growth over last year was the highest among the seven monitored cities. 

Although sales were up, Johnson City and Greeneville were the only cities where the average sales price had dropped. Washington and Johnson counties in Tennessee and Wise, Scott, and Lee counties in Virginia all saw decreases in average sales prices, as well. 

The following shows city and county sales and average sales prices during the first quarter compared to the first quarter of 2016. 

City Markets

  • Johnson City - 154 sales, up 26. $208,899, down $19,746.
  • Kingsport – 141 sales, up 21. $163,399, up $23,321.
  • Bristol, TN – 66 sales, up 21. $140,949, up $46,815.
  • Bristol, VA – 41 sales, up 13. $100,282, up $11,975.
  • Greeneville – 41 sales, up 7. $130,228, down $16,598.
  • Elizabethton – 34 sales, down 7. $121,070, up $4,492.
  • Erwin/Unicoi – 33 sales, down 6. $132,597, up $18,189.

County Markets

  • Sullivan – 366 sales, up 66. $157,112, up $19,811.
  • Washington, TN – 311 sales, up 16. $195,037, down $1,496.
  • Greene – 132 sales, up 6. $135,630, up $574.
  • Carter – 119 sales, up 24. $131,350, up $6,580.
  • Hawkins – 100, down 11. $129,953, up $15,216.
  • Washington, VA – 83, up 15. $159,793, up $8,347.
  • Wise – 36, down 3. $103,949 down $1,142.
  • Scott – 24, up 12. $113,394, down $4,598.
  • Johnson – 15 sales, down 7. $160,013, up $29,251.
  • Lee – 9 sales, up 7. $77,616, down $45,204.

Email Zach Vance at zvance@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow Zach Vance on Twitter at @ZachVanceJCP. Like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/ZachVanceJCP.

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