Chattanooga-area homebuyers bought 577 houses in March, a 42 percent increase over February's 406 homes sold and a 29 percent increase from March 2009, according to data released by the Multiple Listing Service.
Top 5 Hottest areas for home sales
North Hamilton County -- 57
Brainerd/East Brainerd -- 48
Downtown -- 37
North Chattanooga -- 34
East Brainerd/Ooltewah -- 30
Signal Mountain -- $289,000
Lookout Mountain -- $280,825
Ooltewah/Snow Hill -- $200,450
Collegedale -- $200,000
(Tie) Hixson and Hunter Road -- $165,000
Source: Chattanooga Association of Realtors
Randy Durham, president of the Chattanooga Association of Realtors, expressed relief that the market was returning to normal but said he was anxious to see how much of the sales boost was a result of consumers' rush to participate in the first-time homebuyer's tax credit, which expires at the end of April.
"Time will tell how much we've been aided by the homebuyer's tax credit for both new buyers and the existing buyers' credit that was added last fall by Congress," he said. "Anecdotal evidence suggests that it was a strong component in our marketplace that moved potential buyers off of the fence and got them into homes."
Chattanooga-area MLS President Bobby Teems credited an improving employment picture with helping to spur home sales.
"The drop from 10 percent to 9.8 percent in the most recent reporting period might not seem like much, but its definitely going in the right direction," he said. "When people aren't working, they're not able to participate in an improving economy and every segment of the economic picture suffers, none more so than those seeking jobs themselves."