Chattanooga house sales tip higher; sellers paid more

Chattanooga house sales tip higher; sellers paid more

October 21st, 2011 by Ellis Smith in Business Around the Region

By the Numbers

• $135,900 - Median home price in Sept. 2011, up from $123,700 a year ago

• 595 - Number of homes sold in Chattanooga area in September, down from 483 a year ago.

• 145 - Average number of days a home remained on the market before a sale in September 2011, up from 110 a year ago.

• 32.7 percent - Percent of homes sold that were foreclosure last month

Source: Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

Real Estate Top Fives

• No. of sales by area

  1. Brainerd/East Brainerd - 46 homes sold
  2. North Hamilton County - 41 homes sold
  3. North Chattanooga - 32 homes sold
  4. East Brainerd/Ooltewah - 26 homes sold
  5. Signal Mountain - 20 homes sold

• Highest median sale price

  1. Signal Mountain - $261,550, of $5.56 million total sales
  2. East Brainerd/Ooltewah - 230,450, out of $6.33 million total sales
  3. North Chattanooga - $206,000, out of $7.1 million total sales
  4. Lookout Mountain - $197,000, out of $1.3 million total sales
  5. Ooltewah/Snow Hill - $195,000, out of $3.5 million total sales

Source: Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

House sales inched up 7.1 percent in September over 2010 figures for the Chattanooga area, though sales fell 18.8 percent from the previous month.

Area sales hit a high this year of 595 in August, capping the summer buying season before falling to 483 in September. The number of days a home remained on the market jumped to 145 in September, from 110 days in September 2010.

"The drop in unit sales is actually not a great shock, following a successful summer," said Jennifer Grayson, president of the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors. "Realtors understand well the lifestyle of our customers changes with the reopening of schools, and the movement in the marketplace that is somewhat predictive as the change to fall weather."

Overall, sales in 2011 have topped 2010 numbers since July, which was the month that the homebuyers tax credit expired in mid-2010. Excluding September 2010, Realtors had the fewest number of sales in a September since 2002, when just 446 dwellings were sold.

Chattanooga month-over-month sales appeared to lag behind the national housing market, which fell just 3 percent from August to September - on track to match 2010's 13-year low, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The irony, according to the group's chief economist, Lawrence Yun, is that "affordability conditions have improved to historic highs and more creditworthy borrowers are trying to purchase homes, but the share of contract failures is double the level of Sept. 2010."

Failed or canceled contracts, which are caused by declined mortgage applications, loan underwriting failures and disputed appraisals, doubled over the year across the U.S., figures of the national group show.

Chattanooga-area foreclosures continued to make up about a third of all home sales, though the median home price climbed nearly 10 percent to $135,900 over the year, according to Dan Griess, president of the Chattanooga Area Multiple Listing Service.

However, the $12,000 jump in value from $123,700 in September 2010 declines by more than a third if inflation is taken into account.

"While it demonstrates the affordability of the market, it's also reassuring to homeowners, whether or not they're selling, that there's still real value in their investment," Griess said.