Oklahoma City-area Realtors are parading into the second half of what looks to be a post-housing slump banner year, with tattered 2007 statistics furled in the back of their minds.
Lorna Koeninger, president of the Metro Association of Realtors, checked off the comparisons with five years ago:
• Pending sales in June: 1,785, up 11.5 percent compared with June 2011 and the highest in five years.
• New listings of houses for sale: 2,415, down slightly and the lowest in five years.
• Current total listings: 7,670, lowest in five years.
Plus, the number of homes sold in June — 1,702 — was an increase of 10.3 percent compared with the same period last year; and the total value of homes sold, $286.5 million, was an increase of 13.5 percent.
The average sale price in June was $169,532, up 3.6 percent from June 2011.
“The housing market in Oklahoma City spun 2012 off to a running start in December 2011, earlier than expected and partly due to the moderate temperatures and low interest rates,” said Koeninger, an associate with Paradigm AdvantEdge Real Estate. “The market throughout the spring and summer months has shown continued improvement over five years ago.”
She cautioned that 100-plus-degree heat and preparations for school could dampen July numbers.
For their part, homebuilders pulled back a little as the dog days approached, Kurt Dinnes, owner of Oklahoma City's Sun Custom Homes and president of the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association, said.
“I expected it to slow down some. A lot of permits have been pulled. There's been a surge,” he said. Activity, he said, “continues to be somewhat robust, but the big surge has already happened.”
Last spring, renewed confidence had builders building spec homes again — those without buyers lined up — but now they have to sell some before building many more, he said.
Buyers seem to be in a rush to take advantage of historically low home loan rates, he said, with some worrying the November presidential election could usher in rising borrowing costs. Koeninger agreed.
Dinnes said that's the opposite of what sometimes occurs, when buyers grow reluctant to take the plunge during the uncertainty leading up to a national vote.
The average mortgage interest rate for homes sold here in June was 3.96 percent, down 16.8 percent compared with June 2011, the Realtors said.
However, tight lending is making it difficult to buy, even for seasoned homeowners with good credit and considerable equity to use for a down payment, Dinnes said.
Dinnes said he knew of a doctor who wanted to contract for a new house and was able to provide a 30 percent down payment, but her usual bank balked because she had left one hospital and affiliated with another one in the past year. Dinnes said he worked with her to find a willing lender.
The remainder of 2012?
“Mortgage rates remain low, and as long as a buyer can find credit, the buyer will buy a home versus rental. The dream of homeownership is still alive in Oklahoma,” Koeninger said. But, “(it) depends on the interest rates staying at the all-time low, temperatures dropping, credit available to the buyers and listing inventory becoming available over the next few months.”