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Homes are under construction at Hawthorne Park Estates between Union Chapel and Crawford roads. Listings for existing homes are down 8 percent.

Buyers flood competitive market

Local prices rise 2%; winter blamed for late start to selling

A seller’s market?

No kidding.

According to the Upstate Alliance of Realtors, year-to-date figures show 5,754 new listings of existing homes through the first six months of the year, a drop of nearly 8 percent from the same time in 2013.

A top local housing market official continues to tie the low inventory of available homes to buyers who were snowed in last winter and didn’t get an earlier start looking for houses.

The result, says J. Kyle Ness, is a wave of buyers chasing too few homes.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Ness, Up­state president. “It’s good for the sellers, and it does show improving confidence, but it also means inventory is tight.”

Upstate, which tracks data from Allen, Adams, De­Kalb, Huntington, Noble, Wells and Whitley counties, said the average sales price through the first six months of the year was $127,239, a 2 percent jump.

“Expect that to go up,” Ness said.

The median sales price in June was $119,900, up 7 percent from the same month last year.

Real estate agent Suzanne Nieberding said the increase is understandable as buyers are getting competitive, resulting in higher home prices.

“I’ve had a number of people willing to pay above the list price,” Nieberding said. “I listed a ranch-style home with a loft, finished basement and four bedrooms, and it went for about $310,000, which was $4,000 above the list price.”

Ah, wait a minute.

“It’s true,” Nieberding said. “Another reason for the shortage of existing homes is that it’s driven by new construction, which is just starting to get back to (pre-recession) levels.”

Lawrence Yun, chief econ­omist with the National As­sociation of Realtors, said as much last month.

“New home construction needs to rise by at least 50 percent for a complete return to a balanced market because supply shortages – particularly in the West – are still putting upward pressure on prices,” he said.

Yun also said stagnant wage growth is holding back what should be a strong­er pace of sales.

“The lack of wage increases is leaving a large pool of potential homebuyers on the sidelines who otherwise would be taking ad­vantage of low interest rates. Income growth below price appreciation will hurt affordability,” he said.

pwyche@jg.net

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