Archive for Thursday, March 31, 2005

County home sales ‘bouncing back’ as rates climb

March 31, 2005


The number of homes sold in Lawrence last month held steady compared with February 2004, according to a new report from the Douglas County Appraiser's Office.

It's the price that has gone up.

Buyers paid an average $193,286 for a home last month in Lawrence, up $28,320 -- or 17 percent -- from February 2004.

Such market appreciation isn't all that surprising, given the city's continued popularity as a place to live coupled with a relative scarcity of lots for construction of new homes, said Lisa Ramler, president of the Lawrence Board of Realtors. Market forces are at play.

But even as mortgage interest rates continue to climb -- a national survey last week pegged the average rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage at 6.01 percent, the highest since July -- more homeowners are putting their homes up for sale, and more buyers are signing contracts.

Rates have risen for six consecutive weeks, and analysts expect the gradual increases to continue.

"As rates are going up, people are getting worried and making decisions," said Ramler, a Realtor for Realty Executives-Hedges Real Estate in Lawrence. "I think it's gotten extremely busy in the last couple weeks. I see a lot of homes being listed and a lot selling in record time."

Fifty-five home sales closed during February in Lawrence, the same number that closed during the same month a year earlier.

Throughout the county, the number of homes sold climbed to 85, up 11, or 15 percent, from February 2004, according to the appraiser's report.

Average prices paid in February for homes in areas of Douglas County, compared with February 2004, according to the Douglas County Appraiser's Office:¢ Rural: $239,250, down 8.6 percent.¢ Lawrence: $193,286, up 17 percent.¢ Baldwin: $162,013, down 7.7 percent.¢ Eudora: $128,815, down 8.9 percent.¢ North Lawrence: $120,270, down 3.4 percent.¢ Total Douglas County: $184,328, up 10.4 percent.

Areas with increased sales during the month, compared to a year earlier, were rural Douglas County, Baldwin and North Lawrence. North Lawrence is considered a market separate from Lawrence by the appraiser's office.

There were seven home sales last month in Eudora, down from 10 in February 2004.

The February report showed a positive turn from January, when the county had 79 sales, down from 86 a year earlier.

No worry, Ramler said.

"We're bouncing back," she said.

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