Home sales jump in 2012
BY ROBERT EVATT World Staff Writer
Thursday, January 24, 2013
1/24/13 at 8:14 AM
Tulsa-area home sales for 2012 weren't just well above 2011, they were the best since the recession hit.
The Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors reports that 11,814 homes sold last year. That's 16.2 percent ahead of 2011 and the second-best performance in the last five years, behind only the 12,111 homes that changed hands in 2008.
Dee Dee Jesiolowski, a broker associate with McGraw Realtors, said the slump is officially over.
"Last year was back to what I considered normal and where we should be," she said. "I wouldn't say houses are selling over list price, but sellers had more negotiating power than they have before."
Susan Beach, president of GTAR, said all indications point to the upward trend continuing.
"The beautiful thing is that it will do nothing but get stronger in 2013," she said.
Although low interest rates and a strong local economy were major factors in last year's strong sales, David Momper, with RE/MAX Executives, said it also helps that buyers and sellers have regained their nerve and are now willing to get back into the game.
"People are just tired of waiting to get on with their lives," he said. "They understand interest rates are as good as they're going to get, the elections have been resolved, and apartment rents are going up."
The 2012 total was boosted by a strong December, with 919 homes being sold - 14.7 percent better than December 2011 and the best December in five years by far. December 2008 was the second-best at 817 home sales.
Momper said the sales spike during the final two months of 2012 was an unexpected bonus.
"We're really surprised at the market," he said. "November and December were as good as we've had it in quite a few years."
Home prices also improved. The average of $166,976 was 4.21 ahead of 2011, and the median of $134,000 was up 2.29 percent.
Jesiolowski said buyers and sellers are now on a roughly even playing field, although buyers still have a fair amount of leverage.
"It's become a norm now for buyers to ask sellers to pay some of their closing costs," she said.
While the market rebound is welcome, changing conditions present new issues that real estate professionals have to deal with. The market now has an estimated eight months of inventory - down 25.7 percent from a year ago - and that's causing choosy buyers some problems, Jesiolowski said.
"Right now there's a lack of really good homes on the market," she said. "I'm working with some clients from out of state, and with their price range and what they're looking for, I'm having trouble finding it."
Yet Beach noted there are still some pockets of homes that aren't selling due to overly aggressive prices, including some homes in the $80,000 to $150,000 range, some in the $150,000 to $220,000 range with three bedrooms, and some that are priced at $360,000 and more.
That, plus an average days to sale of 63.4 percent, indicates a number of homes are still priced too high, she said.
"If condition isn't pristine, it must be reflected in the price," Beach said. "If location isn't ideal, it must be reflected in the price."
Jesiolowski said that although buyers are often getting help from sellers on closing costs, buyers still have their own frustrations.
"It's becoming harder to get through the loan process, though a good, qualified buyer will have no problems," Jesiolowski said.
Beach said the more balanced nature of the market means buyers should still be prepared to give strong offers on houses they really want.
The current year appears to be off to a strong start as well, as the 793 pending listings for December are a five-year high, with the second-best - December 2008 - far behind at 671.
Original Print Headline: Home sales spike in 2012
Robert Evatt 918-581-8447
A sign advertises a home for sale in Tulsa on Wednesday. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World