Prices, sales fall in local housing in January

Prices, sales fall in local housing in January

February 24th, 2011 by Ellis Smith in Business Around the Region

Hottest areas for home sales

Number of houses sold

1. Brainerd/East Brainerd -- 28 for a total of $4.6 million

2. Walker County -- 28 for a total of $2.7 million

3. North Hamilton County -- 22 for a total of $3.7 million

4. Catoosa County -- 22 for a total of $3 million

5. North Chattanooga -- 21 for a total of $5.24 million

Source: Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

Median Price

1. Lookout Mountain -- $287,240 out of 4 houses sold

2. Signal Mountain -- $242,500 out of 10 homes sold

3. East Brainerd -- $234,500 out of 13 homes sold

4. Ooltewah/Snow Hill -- $230,000 out of nine houses sold

5. North Chattanooga -- $225,000 out of 21 homes sold

Source: Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

Consumer uncertainty led to another decline in housing in January, according to the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors.

Home sales in January fell 28.1 percent to 307 units from December 2010 when 427 units were sold. The latest month's sales, however, were up 2.7 percent from January 2010 when only 299 dwellings were sold.

At the same time, the area's $132,900 median price of a house declined 3 percent from December, though it was up 11.2 percent from $119,500 from January 2010.

The average number of days a home stood on the market before being sold fell a week to 138, and foreclosures as a percentage of sales were nearly a third.

Jennifer Grayson, president of the local Realtors association, was less focused on the inconsistent local market, and much more concerned with upcoming local and national legislation that she said could lead to a more dire picture in coming months for her industry.

Locally, the sales tax agreement between Hamilton County and Chattanooga could "shake the confidence of investors and businesses considering our area for relocation, which would certainly have a negative impact on all property values."

The Obama administration has laid out three options to get taxpayers and the federal government out of the mortgage business, and "any of the three would certainly lead to higher interest rates and costs for borrowers," Grayson said.

While she acknowledged the role of government enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in costing nearly $150 billion in bailouts, she said that among Realtors there is a "growing recognition that drastic action would upend the housing finance system, threatening the broader economy."

Dan Griess, president of the association's Multiple Listing Service, said that "housing creates jobs."

"For every additional 1,000 homes sales this year over last, about 500 new jobs are added to the economy," Griess said. "It's just that important.

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