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Wed, Feb. 26

Positive sign: Local Realtor group says home sales improving over 2011

Lower interest rates and other factors stimulated more home sales during the first five months of the year than from January-May 2011, Prescott Area Association of Realtors executives said.

However, the average sale prices of homes declined overall in the quad-city area, according to data supplied by PAAR Treasurer Pete Weaver. PAAR has more than 1,000 members.

Sale prices fell on average in the Prescott area and Dewey-Humboldt even though inventory levels throughout the area have dropped thanks in part to fewer "distressed" homes (foreclosures and short sales) on the market.

"There have been some subtle improvements in the economy," Weaver said Tuesday.

Improvements include interest rates at 3.75 percent, which Weaver said is "virtually free money." He added interest rates typically ranged between 6 and 8 percent before falling to 3.75 percent about 18 months ago.

Citing PAAR data, Weaver said Realtors sold 1,111 residential properties from Jan. 1 through May 31 in the quad-city area, up from 1,092 during the same period in 2011. The properties include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and manufactured homes.

The homes sold for an average of $183,067 and stayed on the market 149 days, compared with an average sale price of $187,220 and 150 days on the market during the same period in 2011.

In May alone, 273 properties sold, spending 146 days on average on the market and selling for an average of $188,919. By contrast, in May 2011, 251 homes sold, spent an average of 141 days on the market and went for an average of $180,628,

In Prescott, 524 homes sold from January through May, up by 10 from the same period in 2011, Weaver said. Homes sold for an average price of $236,707 so far this year, down from $250,271 during the same period in 2011.

In Prescott Valley, 365 homes sold from January through May, up from 354 in the same time frame 2011. The average sale price increased from $134,363 to $141,514.

Home sales totaled 136 in Chino Valley from January through May, up from 133 a year ago. The average sale price increased from $119,226 to $122,784.

In Dewey-Humboldt, home sales numbered 86 in the five months of this year, down from 91 in the same time frame in 2011.

The average sale price also dropped from $136,083 to $127,923.

Sales prices generally are "trending up," PAAR President Josh Lethbridge said. "Market times are shorter. Days on the market are shorter. Our inventory levels are down. And the number of available foreclosure properties has decreased. All of that has led to a really active real estate market right now."

However, Lethbridge, who has worked 16 years in real estate in Prescott and is owner/broker of Liberty Management Group, expressed some pessimism.

"We are not sure that the economy has been completely repaired," he said.

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