Early returns suggest Douglas County homeowners will see a significant drop in their property values by 2010.
New data from the Douglas County Appraiser’s office show that area real estate activity is down, and so are the prices that single-family homes are fetching through the first four months of 2009.
“At this point, I haven’t seen the signs of a rebound,” said Douglas County Appraiser Marion Johnson.
Based on sales data gathered by the department, the number of real estate sales in Douglas County is down 31 percent through the same four-month period in 2008. The number of sales totaled 345 through April, down from 501 during the same period a year ago.
Prices also are in retreat. The median selling price for single-family homes is down about 6 percent thus far. That represents an acceleration of a downturn that began in 2008, when average prices dropped by about 2.5 percent to 3 percent, Johnson said.
Currently, the median selling price for homes is $179,900. The last time the average price was that low was 2006, when it checked in at $176,900.
National statistics indicate Lawrence’s market is still holding up better than overall averages. Johnson said data he has shows single-family home values have dropped about 15.5 percent nationally.
In his monthly report, Johnson also noted a USA Today article that indicated it may be awhile before the real estate market in Kansas picks back up. The article estimated it will be 2012 or later before the supply of excess homes in the state is substantially depleted, requiring new construction to begin.
But Lawrence builders believe the situation is better here. Bobbie Flory, executive director of the Lawrence Home Builders Association, said her group has seen signs of improvement this spring.
“I think the builders have a little bit of hope right now,” Flory said.
Flory said builders and real estate agents have reported an increase in the number of people out looking at homes, and she said crowds at the recent Spring Parade of Homes were larger than in the past.
“I think what we’re going to see is an incline,” Flory said. “It won’t be a shot to the top like we saw in 2005, but I’m more optimistic now than I have been.”
The numbers that Johnson’s office is gathering will be used to determine the value of Douglas County homes on Jan. 1, 2010. Property owners will receive those new tax values in March.
The property values will be used by city and county commissioners to set budgets and property tax rates for 2011.