Wichita layoffs pull down home prices

Area job losses caused Wichita home prices to fall in 2002 despite the nation’s strongest housing market on record, according to a new Wichita State University study.

Home prices fell 1.2 percent in 2002, Stan Longhofer, of WSU’s Center for Real Estate, said. He expected home prices citywide would fall slightly in 2003 and flatten out in 2004.

Longhofer said one year’s worth of falling prices probably wouldn’t be felt by the average homebuyer or home seller because the amount is small and the variations between houses is huge. But the trend would have a powerful effect during several years as people lose their sense that a house is a good investment.

Longhofer blamed manufacturing layoffs for pulling down prices, particularly in the blue-collar areas of Wichita.

Real estate agent Carolyn French said seven of her last 27 homes sold to avoid foreclosure.