Houses in the metro area sold a week and a half faster last month on average compared with April, and the average price rose more than 10 percent — and jumped 15 percent year to year.
But sales didn't reflect the spring boom Realtors were hoping for, and the jump in average price had to do with the mix of properties that sold, not property values in general, Real
Home prices here have fallen this year but remain firm compared to most of the nation — and a dream compared to markets hard
Oklahoma City-area home prices fell 2 percent over the course of the first quarter and were 1.72 percent lower at the end of March than at the end of March 2010, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency's all-transactions index, which tracks purchases as well as refinanced mortgages. Nationally, prices fell 2.7 percent in the first quarter and 3.1 percent year to year.
So, what explains the hike in average sales prices here in May?
After months of lingering on the market, upscale houses are starting to sell again, said Ryan Hukill, a Realtor with Paradigm Advant
Hukill said the homes he sells average between $225,000 and $240,000, which means he sells quite a few at $350,000 and above, which has been sluggish. “Fall and winter were dismal. The past two months have started to pop,” he said.
Hukill also noted that the wave of first-time buyers drawn to purchasing by last year's unprecedented federal tax credits left something of a void of first-timers that is showing up in the statistics — which also is pushing the average sales price up.
“We've taken the little buyer out of the market,” with increased credit and down-payment requirements, said Steve Mann, president of the Oklahoma City Metro Association of Realtors and an associate with Paradigm Advant
But “perfect” credit isn't required to buy a house, said Scott Senner, a mortgage banker with First Commercial Bank in Edmond.
“There is a perception among the general public, and real estate community, that a buyer or homeowner needs to have ‘perfect' credit and a down payment to purchase or refinance a home. That is absolutely not the case,” Senner said. “While it is true that perfect credit and a big down payment will help a borrower get a better interest rate, they can have a credit score down to 620 and no money down and still be able to purchase a home. ... The vast majority of loans that I do are still for borrowers with less than 20 percent down, with credit scores below 720.”
Nonetheless, despite enviably low unemployment in Oklahoma — 5.3 percent in May, compared with 9.1 percent in the nation as a whole — Mann said uncertainty over the economy takes its toll on people's homebuying decisions.
“The guy that's working by the hour on a salary, he's as nervous as anyone over whether he's going to have a place to go to work the next day,” he said.
The highest price homes? The tiptop of the market?
“It doesn't seem to faze it,” he said.