Local home sales return to hot market zone

Hank Hayes • Aug 21, 2019 at 9:30 PM

GRAY — Tri-Cities area home sales increased 9.5 percent in July and the average sales price continues to go up, according to a report from the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors (NETAR).

NETAR reported the increase was driven by a strong condominium-townhome rebound and better-than-average single-family sector performance.

There were 737 residential closings last month, and the average sales price was $183,752, NETAR said.

The seven-month trend for residential closings is up 3.4 percent, and the average price trend is up 4.5 percent.

“The biggest headwind continues to be inventory,” said NETAR President Karen Randolph. “It was unchanged last month from June’s 3.5 months’ supply of homes for sale. New listings are picking up, but the margin between new listings and new contracts is so close it’s not making a dent in the lack of inventory.”

These supply-demand forces continue pushing prices to new highs, said Don Fenley, NETAR’s data analyst. The monthly single-family average sales price increase has ranged from a low of 1.1 percent in March to 9.2 percent in July. Townhome resale prices have lagged the single-family sector so far this year. The townhome resales price hit a high of $157,683 in February while the single-family average all-time high of $188,957 was set in May this year.

Single-family closings typically decline from the June level then pick up in August, Fenley said. But they didn’t follow that pattern last month. They were at almost the same level as June while townhome closings were 38.3 percent better than June and 22.6 percent higher than July last year. These totals made last month’s residential performance the third best this year.

NETAR said the trend for single-family resales — the dominant housing market element — is showing signs of softening. But when the sales growth rate is slowing while monthly sales continue setting new highs, it speaks volumes about the local market dynamics, Fenley added. July’s annualized single-family sales level is 4.5 percent. Last year’s annual sales increase was 5.7 percent. Townhome and condominium resales are more volatile, and that puts them in a position to push monthly sales numbers to new highs or produce just average performance, according to NETAR.

The median time on market for a home sale that closed in July was 74 days, according to Realtor Property Resource (RPR). Bristol, Virginia and Erwin were the only major city markets in the 11-county area monitored by NETAR where the days on market was higher than the regional median. The city markets with the shortest median days on market were Kingsport (56) and Johnson City (57).

NETAR’s Trends Report capsules housing market conditions in Carter, Greene, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington counties in Northeast Tennessee and Scott, Lee, Wise and Washington counties in Southwest Virginia. It also includes market data from the region’s primary city markets. City and county market share, year-over-year and year-to-data closings and average sales prices can be found on the NETAR website’s market analytics page at https://netar.us/market-analytics.