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So you wanna buy a house? Market tilting in favor of seller

Douglas Fritz • Mar 23, 2018 at 11:23 PM

For people looking for a house, some challenges may be ahead in 2018.

Aaron Taylor, president of the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors, said there aren’t a lot of places up for sale.

“Currently we’re seeing a lack of inventory,” Taylor said. “We don’t have enough houses in the market, and that is driving prices up. In January, the Johnson City average sales price was $176,069, which is down 8.4 percent from January of last year. The 2017 annual average was $222,687, which is up 6.9 percent from 2016.”

There is a simple explanation for the situation, Taylor said.

“I’m attributing it to demand from the buyers,” he said. “There aren’t enough houses to sell.”

Timing has a lot to do with it, and the housing market can fluctuate over the course of a year. Season changes often play a role in those fluctuations. With spring right around the corner, there’s optimism for people who want to buy.

But there aren’t guarantees.

“Theoretically you will see more houses come on the market as we hit spring,” said Taylor. “But for the rest of the year, it could be a seller’s market. I do believe a shift will come at the end of this year or early next year.”

Also playing a role in the equation is new construction. Houses are going up in Johnson City, but the price range isn’t within reach for many people.

“New construction is up around Washington County and Johnson City, but it’s in the price range from $300,000 to $500,000,” said Taylor. “We don’t have much in the $200,000 range.”

And interest rates may not provide relief.

“The forecast is for interest rates to hit six percent by the end of the year,” said Taylor. “That’s not high compared to what it was several years ago, but it does put a damper on the buyer.”

Of course the other side of this issue is the position of high leverage for sellers. Kimberly Keith, a realtor with RE/MAX Checkmate, said the timing might be right for some people to make a move toward selling.

“If someone is thinking about putting their house on the market, now is a good time,” said Keith. “Everything is moving. Even the high end is moving.”

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