Realtors: Market, sales up

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 12, 2010

Covington County home sales were up more than $1.1 million in February when compared to the same period in 2009 – a sign local realtors say is “encouraging.”

“So far this year we’ve sold nearly $3.5 million in residential sales, compared to $2.39 million this time last year,” said Tripp Bass of the Bass Agency.

Bass and Covington Association of Realtors president Debra Donaldson, said Thursday the majority of local realtors are seeing more activity in the housing market – a fact they attributed to two things.

“February and March have seen most of the transactions, and some of that could be from people getting their tax refunds,” Donaldson said. “We are also seeing a lot of people who are wanting to buy before the April 30 deadline (to take advantage the homebuyer tax credit), and I think that is benefiting us.”

Potential homeowners have until April 30 to place a contract on a new home and have until June 30 to close on the property to take advantage of the first-time homebuyers tax credit, Bass said.

The increase in overall sales is not the only increase realtors have seen over the past year.

The average price for houses sold is a little more than $100,000, which Bass said is increase of $11,500 from the average price of $88,500 from this time last year.

The median sold price for homes has also increased by $11,250 to $83,250 compared to only $72,000 at this point last year.

“It looks like it is getting stronger,” Bass said. “If we can have a few more pretty days, we think that will help.”

Donaldson said home shoppers should be warned – the days of 100 percent financing are over.

“Two years ago, people could get their homes for 100 percent financing,” she said. “But now almost everyone has to have a minimum 3.5 percent down payment.”

So far this year, local realtors made 35 residential transactions, which is up from 27 this period last year.

The number of days on the market is around 160 days, which is down from 169 days this time last year, which Donaldson said is typical of Covington County.

“Last year we saw a lot of days over 200,” she said. “We typically tell people to allow for at least 180 days in our market.”

Donaldson remains hopeful that industry expansions in the area will help increase the market even more.

“I think the fact that SaeHaeSung is going to expand is going to help,” she said.

“I feel like when these new jobs get started unemployment will improve and we’ll see increases.”