Home sales surge – Reported By The Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro

BY MELINDA HUDGINS ? MHUDGINS@DNJ.COM ? June 3, 2009

 

While pending home sales haven’t increased in Rutherford County as much as sales have nationwide, local Realtors are acknowledging a substantial increase.

 

The National Association of Realtors recently announced its seasonally adjusted index of sales contracts signed in April surged 6.7 percent to 90.3. It was the biggest monthly jump since October 2001 when pending sales rose 9.2 percent.

 

Within the county, pending contracts in April were slightly down from the same time last year, with 321 in 2009 compared to 380 in 2008, according to a Middle Tennessee Association of Realtors report.

 

“Inasmuch as we have had such record sales over the past few years and less dramatic decrease in sales and prices, it is not surprising that our slight dip in pending and sales is just now lagging behind areas nationwide that had much deeper drops,” said Candy Roberts Joyce, executive vice president of MTAR. “Any rebound in the hardest hit markets would be a substantial change in the national statistical report.”

 

She did add that since February, Rutherford County has continued to rebound monthly until April, which is traditionally a soft month going into May’s end-of-school push.

 

According to Red Realty President Steven Dotson, the surge of home closings here since January “shows the market is improving, and we should see much healthier second and third quarters.”

 

“There are still several short sales and foreclosures on the market which are skewing the current market values,” he said. “Once we see the number of short sales and foreclosures decline, we will know we are very close to a healthy market again.”

 

Additionally, Dotson said, “Rutherford County was one of the last to be affected by the real estate downturn, and I think we’ll be one of the first to recover.”

 

Dotson said Middle Tennessee’s diverse economy makes it more stable than other markets that have seen much larger home price reductions.

 

National housing prices also fell 11.5 percent in March compared to a year ago, down slightly from an 11.7 annual percent decline in February, according to newly released data from real estate data source First American CoreLogic and its Home Price Index.

 

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Two trends are emerging ? price declines are slowing in the states that have had the highest declines over the past three years; however, declines are accelerating in states that have been experiencing only moderate decreases during that same period. Thirty-three states have exhibited acceleration in the rate of price declines in the last three months.

 

 

 

In the Murfreesboro area, the report stated that home prices decreased 6.56 percent in March compared to a year ago. In February 2009, the same area, which includes Nashville and Franklin, showed a decrease of 4.81 percent compared to one year prior.

 

In addition to the below-market prices, home buyers are taking advantage of extremely low interest rates, which are currently below 5 percent and an $8,000 tax credit for new homeowners, according to Willie Mangrum, a Realtor for Crye-Leike in Murfreesboro.

 

“I don’t believe there will be another time like this in my lifetime,” said Mangrum, who is in his 40s. “We’re seeing interest rates below 5 percent. That’s absolutely unheard of.”

 

One new buyer kept his eye on the housing market, waiting for the perfect time to purchase a home.

 

“I’ve been wanting to buy a house for a couple of years, but now seemed like a good time to take advantage of tax credits and low interest rates,” said Joseph Thornell, who recently purchased a home on U.S. Highway 231 South (Shelbyville Highway) near Christiana.

 

Thornell, 28, said he will apply the government’s new home buyer stimulus directly to the principal amount.

 

The government is working on a program that will allow new homebuyers to apply the $8,000 directly to the down payment to be used on top of the minimum out-of-pocket amount required.

 

Two trends are emerging ? price declines are slowing in the states that have had the highest declines over the past three years; however, declines are accelerating in states that have been experiencing only moderate decreases during that same period. Thirty-three states have exhibited acceleration in the rate of price declines in the last three months.

 

In the Murfreesboro area, the report stated that home prices decreased 6.56 percent in March compared to a year ago. In February 2009, the same area, which includes Nashville and Franklin, showed a decrease of 4.81 percent compared to one year prior.

 

In addition to the below-market prices, home buyers are taking advantage of extremely low interest rates, which are currently below 5 percent and an $8,000 tax credit for new homeowners, according to Willie Mangrum, a Realtor for Crye-Leike in Murfreesboro.

 

“I don’t believe there will be another time like this in my lifetime,” said Mangrum, who is in his 40s. “We’re seeing interest rates below 5 percent. That’s absolutely unheard of.”

 

One new buyer kept his eye on the housing market, waiting for the perfect time to purchase a home.

 

“I’ve been wanting to buy a house for a couple of years, but now seemed like a good time to take advantage of tax credits and low interest rates,” said Joseph Thornell, who recently purchased a home on U.S. Highway 231 South (Shelbyville Highway) near Christiana.

 

Thornell, 28, said he will apply the government’s new home buyer stimulus directly to the principal amount.

 

The government is working on a program that will allow new homebuyers to apply the $8,000 directly to the down payment to be used on top of the minimum out-of-pocket amount required.