Solid winter sales hit the spring homebuying season with enough heat to burn off more of the metro-area housing supply, leaving the market essentially balanced.
March ended with the estimated inventory at 5.5 months, meaning it would take that long for all the houses listed for sale to be sold if no more went on the market. Realtors generally consider a supply of between five and six months to give buyers and sellers basically equal footing in negotiations.
The Oklahoman estimated the inventory by dividing the average monthly sales for the past year by the number of houses for sale at the end of March, using statistics from the Oklahoma City Metro Association of Realtors. The numbers include only sales handled by Realtors, not houses sold directly by owners or builders.
Low mortgage rates
Realtors handled the sale of 1,485 houses in March, 18.6 percent more than in March 2011, at an average price of $157,157, according to the association. Sales were fueled partly by low mortgage interest rates, which averaged 4.08 percent in March, the Realtors reported.
“March (had) all positive numbers,” said Lorna Koeninger, president of the Metro Association of Realtors and an associate at Paradigm AdvantEdge Real Estate. “The inventory is still down, keeping at under a six-month supply, although the listings during March were at a 10-percent increase over last year.”
Open House Weekend
It has set the stage for a successful Nationwide Open House Weekend 2012. The National Association of Realtors counted 31,078 “open house events” this weekend. Friday, about 230 houses were listed as open this weekend on www.central
Koeninger said any Realtors holding houses open this weekend should be busy.
“Sellers (are) feeling more confident about selling their home this spring and buyers (are) looking to take advantage of the still-low interest rates,” she said.
Eastern Oklahoma County Builders count on seeing shoppers this weekend and May 5-6 during the East Area Festival of Homes. Builders will have 14 new houses open free to the public from 1 to 7 p.m., all four days.
More spec homes
“It's just flat picking up in southeastern Oklahoma City,” said Jim McWhirter, owner of Gemini Homes in Del City and chairman of the event. “Builders are stepping up a little more right now and putting up some spec homes.
Builders in Oklahoma City, Edmond, Midwest City, Moore and Norman took out permits to build 1,101 single-family homes through March, 27.6 more than in the first quarter of last year, according to the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association.
Consumer confidence and builder confidence are up, said Kurt Dinnes, owner of Sun Custom Homes in Oklahoma City and president of the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association.
Oklahoma City and Edmond are booming again, at least compared to last year, itself the second year of improvement since the bottom in 2009.
Builders in Oklahoma City got permits for 793 houses in the first quarter, 39.4 percent more than in the first three months of 2011, and builders in Edmond got permits for 133 new houses, 77.3 percent more than the same period last year. Permit numbers were down in Midwest City, Moore and Norman.