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Traverse City area home sales on the rebound
Local home sales on the rebound
By Bill O'Brien-Traverse City Record-Eagle
Posted: 05/23/2012 7:14 AM
Existing home sales continued to surge in the 5-county area, and sale prices also are starting to rebound.
April home sales totaled 206 across Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Benzie, Antrim and Kalkaska counties, according to data from the Traverse Area Association of Realtors. That's a 14 percent increase from March totals and up 31 percent from April 2011.
The value of those transactions totaled more than $38.3 million, with nearly $21 million of that from Grand Traverse County. Leelanau totaled just over $5.2 million, while Benzie and Antrim were near $4.5 million in total sales.
The local numbers mirrored national sales trends in April, when the National Association of Realtors reported Tuesday that April sales rose 3.4 percent from March and increased 10 percent from a year ago.
"There's an awful lot of activity in the field right now," said Kim Pontius, TAAR's executive vice president.
The median sale price last month in the Grand Traverse area totaled $144,500. That's a 4.5 percent increase from March and up 22.4 percent from April 2011. That's the highest median sale price for April since 2008, but still below the high-water mark of nearly $167,000 in 2006.
Nationally, the median existing-home price for all housing types jumped 10.1 percent to $177,400 in April from a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $141,400, up 7.4 percent from a year ago.
Local year-to-date sales through April totaled 651 homes, the highest total in at least six years. The median sale price so far this year is $135,000, a nearly 11 percent increase from 2011 and the highest total since 2008.
Local demand is strong in the mid-range price levels under $200,000, reflecting interest from first-time home buyers or baby-boomers downsizing into smaller homes, Pontius said.
The market for higher-end homes and waterfront properties lags behind the more-affordable options, said agent Jim Noller of the Real Estate One office in Traverse City.
"I think it takes longer for that upper range to catch up right now," Noller said.
Pontius and Noller said housing sales in Traverse City also are improving.
"The market is changing, there's more interest in urban living," Pontius said.
Lawrence Yun, the NAR chief economist, said the national sales data suggests a housing recovery is underway.
"It is no longer just the investors who are taking advantage of high affordability conditions. A return of normal home buying for occupancy is helping home sales across all price points, and now the recovery appears to be extending to home prices," he said.
Distressed homes — foreclosures and short sales sold at deep discounts — accounted for 28 percent of April national sales, including 17 percent through foreclosures and 11 percent through short sales. That's down from 29 percent in March and 37 percent in April 2011.
Nationally, first-time buyers rose to 35 percent of purchasers in April from 33 percent in March; they were 36 percent in April 2011.
Wire services contributed to this report
Search all Traverse City area real estate listings at www.c21jb.com

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