Sales Down 1.8%, Values Strong

Despite an early surge from federal housing tax credit, Louisville home sales declined 1.8 percent in 2010 from 2009’s volume, according to figures released Thursday. But the median price of the 11,442 sales made by the Greater Louisville Association of Realtors was $138,000 last year, up from $132,000 in 2009, the association said. The slip in sales comes after a slight gain in 2009 over 2008’s volume. Still, Realtors President Lamont Breland said he was pleased with the figure. “Being down 1.8 percent for the year to me is not a bad thing when you’re in the middle of a recession,” said Breland, principal broker at the Breland Group. “We’re not that far off from the previous year, so now we just need some good economic news to keep it going.” In Southern Indiana, sales dipped 13 percent below 2009’s volume to 2,529, according to the Southern Indiana Realtors Association. Breland attributed Louisville’s strong gain in median price to a market devoid of first-time homebuyers, many of whom moved quickly in late 2009 or early 2010 to get a tax credit worth up to $8,000. Meanwhile, homes in the $200,000 to $500,000 range having been selling easier, he said. Buyers claiming the credit had to sign purchase contracts by April 30, and most eligible sales were completed by the original deadline of June 30, though Congress extended the deadline to Sept. 30 at the last minute. In the first six months of the year, when the credit was available, sales outpaced 2009’s volume by 29 percent. But in the second half of the year, without the credit, sales were down 24 percent. Mike Gandolfo, an agent with Semonin Realtors in Louisville, said the federal credit and similar deal offered by the state of Kentucky did little more than change some buyers’ timing. “All you’re doing is moving a buyer from August to April. It’s not like you’re stimulating new people to buy,” he said. “That’s exactly what happened in 2010.” Gandolfo predicts sales will be about flat this year before rebounding strongly next year due to more fundamental factors, like the dearth of newly constructed homes over the last few years. “In 2012, we’ll look really good,” he said

Source:  Chris Otts, Courier Journal