Home sales rise to five-year high in Chattanooga area

Home sales rise to five-year high in Chattanooga area

January 23rd, 2013 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

Home sales tile

Home sales tile


6,675: Number of Realtor-assisted home sales in the Chattanooga area last year, up 17 percent from 2011.

4.65 million: Number of Realtor-assisted home sales nationwide last year, up 9.2 percent from 2011.

$136,000: Median sales price of homes in Chattanooga last year, up 6.9 percent from 2011.

135: Number of days to sell typical home in Chattanooga last year, down four days from 2011.

Source: Chattanooga Association of Realtors, National Association of Realtors

Home sales last year rose to a 5-year high as lower mortgage and jobless rates combined to lift homebuyer confidence.

The number of homes sold by Chattanooga Realtors rose 17 percent last year to the highest level since 2007. The Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors said the typical home sold last year for $136,000, or $8,739 more than the previous year.

"Momentum is on our side. It won't necessarily be fast," Mark Blazek, president of the Chattanooga Realtors, said in a report Tuesday. "But recovery appears to be here to stay."

The sales gains last year helped cut the average time a home is on the market from 139 days in 2011 to 135 days last year as available inventory of unsold homes declined.

Nationwide, the National Association of Realtors said home sales rose 9.2 percent during 2012 to the highest since 2007.

"We remain convinced that the housing recovery is well under way and should continue through 2013," said Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG, an institutional brokerage.

The market is being held back by the shrinking supply of homes for sale.

The inventory of available homes on the market dropped to 1.82 million in December, the lowest in 12 years.

First-time buyers, who are critical to a housing recovery, made up only 30 percent of sales in December, due in part to tighter lending standards and higher down payment requirements for new buyers.

That's well below the 40 percent that is typical in a healthy market.

Sales were buoyed by the cheap mortgage rates, however. The rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage averaged 3.66 percent in 2012, the lowest annual average in 65 years, according to Freddie Mac.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.