October home sales down from last year

October home sales down from last year

Year's total so far still well ahead of 2012

CHAMPAIGN — October home sales in the Champaign County area were down slightly from a year ago, the Champaign County Association of Realtors reported Wednesday.

But year-to-date home sales were still running well ahead of sales for the same period last year.

The association's Multiple Listing Service reported that 168 homes were sold in October, down from 174 in October 2012.

Higher mortgage rates were one reason for the drop in sales, and rates could move even higher, said association President Phil Trautman.

"Interest rates will likely rise in 2014," Trautman said in a release. "Waiting until spring will most likely mean buyers will face higher prices and higher mortgage rates."

The average rate on a fixed-rate mortgage was 4.19 percent in October, up from 3.36 percent in October 2012, according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., citing figures for the North Central Region of the United States.

The National Association of Realtors says mortgage rates are expected to reach 5.4 percent by the end of 2014.

Even with the rise in rates, sales for the first 10 months of 2013 outstripped sales for the same period last year.

A total of 2,238 homes were sold from January to October, up 8.7 percent from 2,059 sales for that period in 2012.

There are promising indications for November sales. The number of pending sales in October — listings that went under contract and are awaiting closing in 30 to 60 days — was up 25 percent. The association reported 222 pending sales in October, up from 177 in October 2012.

Trautman, broker/owner of Champaign County Realty in Champaign, said tight lending standards are preventing some financially qualified buyers — especially first-time buyers — from buying homes.

First-time buyers accounted for 38 percent of the market this year, down from 39 percent in 2012. The median age of a first-time buyer was 31.

"Limited inventory supplies also are having an impact on price performance," Trautman said. "We expect to see more new construction in the new year, which will be welcome to help expand inventories."

The median home sale price in October was $125,000, down 11 percent from $140,200 in October 2012. The median price is the point at which half the homes sold for more and half sold for less.

The year-to-date median price was $137,050, down from the $140,000 median for the first 10 months of 2012.

The Champaign County Association of Realtors' Multiple Listing Service includes Champaign County and parts of Piatt and Douglas counties.

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