Local housing inventory has dropped to a level not seen for five years — since before the credit crash and recession — which is giving home sellers an edge.
Realtors in the Oklahoma City area handled the sale of 1,442 homes in September. Sales plummeted 25 percent compared with the month before, reflecting the typical post-summer slowdown, but sales were up 2.1 percent compared with September a year ago.
However, the number of homes listed for sale considered against the average sales pace told the tale of the market heading into the fourth quarter:
• The Metro Association of Realtors ended September with 7,537 homes on the Multiple Listing Service, a decrease of more than 1,000 compared with September 2011.
• Monthly sales the past year averaged 1,469.3.
That comes to a 5.1-month supply, tipped somewhat toward sellers, according to The Oklahoman's calculations. Realtors here generally consider an inventory of five to six months to be balanced. The calculation considers only sales handled by Realtors and not homes sold directly by builders, which are not tracked.
Sales should remain strong in coming months because of “balance in the market for consumers,” said Lorna Koeninger, president of the Metro Association of Builders and a sales associate with Paradigm AdvantEdge Real Estate.
Mortgage interest rates continued to fuel sales, as well as refinancing, for those with good-enough credit. The average loan rate here in September was 3.71 percent, up slightly from 3.69 percent in August but down considerably from the average of 4.47 percent in September 2011.
“Rates are still low, which will be a motivating factor in buyers looking to buy rather than rent as well as looking for stability,” Koeninger said.
For their part, homebuilders kept hammering away. Builders in Oklahoma City, Edmond, Midwest City, Moore and Norman together started 3,482 houses in the first three quarters, up 27.2 percent compared with the first three quarters of 2011.
Oklahoma City permits were up 29.9 percent, Edmond's were up 46.5 percent, Midwest City's up 20 percent and Norman's were up 13.8 percent. Moore's were down 8 percent.
“Confidence is up with builders and consumer confidence seems to be strong,” said Kurt Dinnes, president of the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association and co-owner of Sun Custom Homes.
He said builders saw “awful good results” from the recent Parade of Homes, “and not just traffic but signed contracts.”
The looming presidential election, he said, might have caused some potential buyers to postpone plans simply because of the uncertainty surrounding control of the White House and Congress — and the economy.
Dinnes, co-founder of the Taco Mayo chain and president of Taco Mayo Franchise Systems Inc., said business falls off at the restaurants in the weeks before a presidential election. He said he wouldn't be surprised to see a similar slowdown in home sales show up in the next round of monthly statistics.