Home sales suffered their normal post-New Year slump in January, but local Realtors were still plenty busy.
Busy posting “for sale” signs.
New listings surged in the year’s first month, and inventory swelled to its highest point since November 2011, according to Savannah Multi-List Corp. statistics. January is traditionally a busy month for new listings as many would-be sellers hold off until after the holiday season to post their homes for sale.
Demand didn’t keep up with supply in January; yet activity remained strong. The 298 sales were the most for a January since before the housing bust and represented a 17 percent increase over January 2012, which posted better numbers than the previous two Januarys.
Pending sales, or homes under contract, also showed significant year-over-year gains, hinting at a solid February. The market typically heats up with the weather starting in March and continuing through the spring and summer.
“We’re seeing an influx of buyers into the market, and that’s a real positive thing given the time of the year,” said Donna Davis, president of the Savannah Area Board of Realtors.
The Savannah-area outskirts led sales in January. West Chatham and Bryan County showed increased activity over last January as did the islands, including Skidaway. The Landings recorded 18 closed sales in the month with 19 more homes under contract.
The luxury community now has fewer than 200 homes listed for sale and only 92 homes in the under $500,000 price point. Given the average sales pace over the last 12 months — 18 sales per month -- The Landings could soon see its first signs of significant price appreciation in half-a-decade.
“We want our inventory as low as possible, and we’re starting to see it grow now as folks waited until after the beginning of the year to list,” said Bill Houghton, president of The Landings Company. “But then we’ve had successful shows in the Northeast and a ton of Internet leads from the Midwest and Northeast that’s going to result in a ton of visitations and traffic come March. We see a good year ahead.”
Another positive for the market is the movement of repossessed properties. Lenders sold 99 homes in January, continuing a two-year trend of foreclosure sales making up approximately one-third of the market. But the inventory is dropping – 243 bank-owned properties were listed for sale at the end of January – and the foreclosure rate continues to trend downward.
Repossessed properties are the biggest drags on prices. And while most real estate insiders suspect the existence of a large “shadow inventory” of foreclosures — those properties repossessed by the bank but not yet listed for sale — the fewer repossessions on the market, the more stable prices will be overall.
Savannah’s situation mirrors national trends. The median price of homes sold was up 8.5 percent in January 2013 versus January 2012.
A “seller's market may be developing,” said Lawrence Yun, an economist with the National Association of Realtors.
Local Home Sales Snapshot
The Savannah-area housing market (Chatham, Bryan and Effingham counties) saw the number of homes listed for sale jump to a 14-month high in January as would-be sellers entered the market following the holidays and sales hit their usual post-New Year slowdown. A look at the local market (numbers include residential real estate, including single-family homes, modulars, townhomes and condominiums):
Month |Inventory |New |Sales |Pending |Price
January 2013 |3,871 |641 |298 |274 |$176,276
December 2012 |3,139 |380 |372 |163 |$171,651
November 2012 |3,272 |481 |383 |220 |$209,104
October 2012 |3,424 |710 |388 |242 |$188,796
September 2012 |3,298 |509 |333 |242 |$188,600
August 2012 |3,477 |638 |468 |223 |$191,063
July 2012 |3,460 |610 |444 |278 |$221,061
June 2012 |3,630 |649 |471 |283 |$198,998
May 2012 |3,584 |639 |397 |331 |$169,125
April 2012 |3,694 |648 |363 |275 |$198,823
March 2012 |3,748 |690 |385 |298 |$172,215
February 2012 |3,738 |571 |259 |229 |$157,906
January 2012 |3,754 |687 |246 |238 |$192,020
January 2011 |4,568 |732 |213 |191 |$204,280
January 2010 |5,223 |863 |192 |150 |$200,165
Source: Savannah Multi-List Corp.