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Home sales improve again in third quarter

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Home sales in the Peoria area continued to improve in the third quarter and local Realtors expect growth to continue into and through the winter, according to the Peoria Area Association of Realtors.

Third quarter home sales were up 2.4 percent from the third quarter of 2013. There were 1,440 homes sold during the July-August-September period, compared with 1,411 during the same period last year, PAAR statistics showed.

Combined with improved sales in the first two quarters of the year, including 1,473 sales in the second quarter, the third quarter is evidence of the strength of the area market, said Phil Harvey, newly elected association president.

“We are delighted to report that, like many other areas of the country, the Peoria region market continues to be stable and active. This is a welcome scenario as it benefits both home sellers and homebuyers equally,” Harvey said. “These numbers are reflective of the entire year. Overall we are in really good shape.”

PAAR reported that the median and average sales prices increased during the quarter, as well.

The median sales price — half of the homes being above and half below this price — increased 2.6 percent to $125,219 from $122,000 in the third quarter of 2013.   

The average home sales price was up 5.4 percent, with homes selling on average at $152,407, up from $144,550 in 2013, because of increased activity in the $500,000 and up price range, the association reported. It said that slightly lower inventories of available houses also caused prices to go higher in same price ranges.

Harvey said he is optimistic about the immediate future and doesn’t worry about forecasts of a harsh winter. Acknowledging the fourth quarter is typically the slowest for area home sales, he said, “I think we will continue to see growth into and through the winter months, at least in comparison with last year.”

One reason for his optimism is that the month’s supply of inventory is down 4.5 percent to 6.4 months, meaning buyers still have a good inventory from which to find a house and sellers should be able to find a buyer within a reasonable amount of time.

Another reason for optimism is that mortgage rates continue to be low, which helps all buyers but particularly first-time home buyers, Harvey said. However, he said, there is some concern whether first-time buyers are less able to get in on a healthy real estate market.

Harvey said typically, 40 percent of sales were to first-time buyers. This year, he added, that is down to 28 percent.

Getting that demographic into the market is one of the challenges PAAR members face, he said. That’s because many young, first-time buyers face higher student loan debt than in past years and the cash needed for a down payment is harder to come by.

 “The first-time home buyers need to participate in the programs that are available to help them buy a home. That’s why those programs are there,” he said.

Programs are set up to help with down payment assistance and mortgage financing aid. They include USDA-Rural Development, and IHDA programs such as Building Blocks, Welcome Home Heroes, Smartmove Trio and Welcome Home Illinois.

Interested buyers should contact a Realtor® to find out more or look on the PAAR website for links to these programs, http://www.yourhometools.com, the association said.

In its third quarter report the association said the number of closed sales in September were up 1.5 percent over 2013 and that the average price rose 4.6 percent to $142,587 from $136,290. The median price, however, was down slightly, from $120,750 to $119,500.  

 

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).