Has Wilmington finally turned the corner on the housing slump?
Home sales climbed last month for the fifth straight month compared with year-earlier levels.
“It’s giving us a positive momentum that we are coming out of it,” said Mary Martin, president of the Wilmington Regional Association of Realtors.
Sales last month totaled 266, down from December’s level, but up from a paltry 197 in January 2009, home sales were reflecting the mood of the country following the financial meltdown,
Last month’s figures, however, are “telling us that we’re slowly coming out of this,” Martin said Friday.
There is more than one reason for the improved sales, Martin said. One has to do with price.
The average price of a home sold in January was $214,571, according to WRAR data. Though down from a year earlier as well as from December, average prices have been hovering near $225,000 for several months.
The average median price of a home sold in January – median being the point where half of homes sold for more and half for less – was $180,000, down from $195,000 a year earlier, but up from December’s $175,000.
Martin didn’t see the decrease as a negative, because it has moved in a narrow range for months.
But it does show that the most sales are still happening in the starter market of $140,000 to $160,000, she said.
“The sellers are really understanding the market now,” Martin said. “In early 2009 they still were not accepting what the market was. Now we are finding that they are, pricing their homes more realistically.”
Another reason for the sales increase is the government’s tax credit for home buyers.
“I think the tax credits have helped,” Martin said. “They weren’t sure it was going to be extended.”
There was a period when people didn’t know whether it was going to extended, Martin said and might have brought sales down in November.
The extension is starting to show up in sales, she said.
Under the tax-credit extension for first-time buyers, a home must be under contract by the end of April, Martin said.
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