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Home sales down in 2011, but signs of stablizing emerge

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For a sixth consecutive year home sales in the Peoria region fell in 2011. But area Realtors say there were signs the market is stabilizing, including the fact there was a gain in fourth quarter sales.

The Peoria Area Association of Realtors on Tuesday reported 4,210 homes were sold in 2011, a decline of 2.5 percent from the 4,318 in 2010. But that was the lowest rate of decline since the slide began in 2006; it was 4.4 percent in 2010 from 2009.

Sales in 2005 were a record 6,152 homes, the culmination of six consecutive years of increases when the economy was its strongest, just before the recession hit.

Fourth quarter sales were 966, up nearly 2 percent from the 948 homes sold during the final three months of 2010. While December sales were basically flat, there were 14 percent more homes that went pending last month than in December 2010, the association said.

Another good sign was that the average price of homes sold also increased, but slowly. The average price was $137,345 in 2011, compared with $136,829 in 2010.

The median sale price was $115,000 for 2011 compared to $113,000 in 2010, an increase of 1.8 percent. The median is a typical market price where half the homes sold for more, half sold for less.

The property type with the largest price gain was the single-family segment, where prices increased 2.7 percent to $113,000, the association said. The price range that tended to sell the quickest was the $75,001 to $125,000 range at 92 days. The price range that tended to sell the slowest was the $300,001 to $400,000 range at 137 days.

"Prices appear to have stabilized in many price ranges which is reflected in the slight increase in the average sale price," said PAAR President Laura Martin. "The association is encouraged by the year-end report and believes it is a positive sign for the 2012 real estate market for both buyers and sellers."

While inventory levels were 15.7 percent below where they were at the end of 2011, Martin said it puts the Peoria market about where it should be in terms of housing supply.

The number of homes on the market in the Peoria area at the end of the year was 2,445 compared with 2,899 in 2010. The property type that lost the least inventory was the single-family segment, where it decreased 14.8 percent. That amounts to 6.7 months supply for single-family homes and just over 11 month supply of townhouse-condos. A market is considered balanced between buyers and sellers when there is roughly a five- to six-month supply of homes available for purchase, the association said.

"The spring market will probably be our crystal ball into the future direction of housing in the Peoria area," said Martin. "For now, some sellers are seeing multiple offers; buyers are seeing sub-4.0 percent home loans; and the supply-demand trends are more balanced. It's a stable foundation and a far cry from the 2009 housing market."

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).