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Home sales and home prices both continue to rise in Lawrence


Lawrence's real estate market seems to be returning to its past form, which may mean another annual tradition will return: Notices from the Douglas County appraiser's office that your home's tax value has increased.

The latest numbers from the Lawrence Board of Realtors show July was another strong month for home sales in the city. Real estate agents sold 141 homes in July, up about 15 percent from July 2012 and nearly 64 percent from July 2011.

For the year to date, real estate agents have sold 695 homes, which is a 25 percent increase from the same period a year ago and a nearly 50 percent increase from the same period in 2011.

But the more interesting numbers are found in the selling price data. With seven months of figures in the books, it is now time to start paying attention to pricing trends. In summary, they're up.

Through July, the median selling price on homes in Lawrence has been $168,900. That's an increase of 5.9 percent from the same period of 2012. It also marks a turnaround in the market. At this time last year, home prices were down 5.6 percent compared to 2011. In other words, it looks like home values have found their bottom in Lawrence, and now are on a fairly steady climb.

If that trend holds, it seems likely those higher prices will be reflected in the tax values that are calculated by the Douglas County Appraiser's office. The appraiser's office hasn't provided any guidance yet on what home owners should expect this spring when they get their change of value notices. But the office has been running its own reports on home sales, and it is showing an increase in selling prices as well. Countywide, selling prices are up about 5 percent, according to the county's data.

That doesn't necessarily mean the average property should expect to see its taxable value increase by 5 percent. But an increase is a real a possibility this year, when in the past couple of years falling or stagnant values were more the norm. The second half of the year will be key, because the appraiser's task is to determine the value of the property on Jan. 1. If interest rates rise and housing demand slows in the second half of the year, that will change the equitation considerably.

As for other numbers in the Board of Realtors' report, here's a look:

• Year-to-date, real estate agents have sold 62 newly constructed homes. That's up almost 41 percent from last year.

• Through July, the median days-on-market for a house is 42, down from 60 in 2012.

• Total sales volume for the year thus far is $140.5 million, up 33 percent from the same period a year ago.

• The number of active listings on the market at the end of July was 437, down from 500 at the time period in 2012.

• The number of pending contracts at the end of July stood at 124, which is down from 136 at the end of July 2012. That may mean August numbers will be down a bit from August 2012 numbers.


David Holroyd 1 year, 3 months ago

Still, the JW does not give examples. Valuation, listing price, and sold price.

The article provides little information and almost no facts.

jafs 1 year, 3 months ago

If you really think that, perhaps you didn't read the article.

I see numerous facts in it, just not the particular ones you want to see.

jafs 1 year, 3 months ago

I see numbers of homes sold, percentages relative to other years, and selling prices and the same.

All of those are facts, and useful ones.

And, as chootspa points out, you can find more detailed information if you want to. What's your beef exactly?

parrothead8 1 year, 3 months ago

What do you want them to do? List all 62 newly constructed homes that have sold, along with their prices? And then list the ones that sold last year, along with their prices? Stop being such a whiner and do some of your own research if you care so much.

chootspa 1 year, 3 months ago

Ever heard of the Internet? I hear it has multiple real estate websites that list historical and current data on home sales.

BinNLawrence4ever 1 year, 3 months ago

The market "appears" to be improved - Limited inventory, Just go to any real estate agent that was around in the" housing boom" and have them do one of those comparative market things - have them show you how many sales in any given neighborhood then go back for the past 5 years - you will be surprised of what is really going on. By the way: taxes will always go up!

George_Braziller 1 year, 3 months ago

Not good news to me. My house is paid off and don't have any intention of ever selling it. Just means I'll have to pay more taxes for schools for kids I don't have and city services I'll never receive because I live on the "bad" side of town.

jafs 1 year, 3 months ago

You have some evidence of that?

When the article says "selling price", are you claiming that's not really the price the house sold for?

chicago95 1 year, 3 months ago

Actually, the Federal Housing Oversight Agency House Price Index report for the second quarter of 2013 also became available Thursday. Find it here: . In a nutshell, values of all pre-existing homes in the Lawrence Metropolitan Statistical Area declined slightly from the first quarter of the year, though year-over-year data showed a slight uptick of less than one-half of one percent.

jafs 1 year, 3 months ago

I looked at your link and wasn't easily able to find the Lawrence area statistics you mention.

Also, it should be noted that the definition of the Lawrence Metropolitan Statistical Area is all of Douglas County. So, it would make sense for those figures to be different from the city of Lawrence figures.

This article is about the city of Lawrence real estate market, not Douglas County's.

chicago95 1 year, 3 months ago

Easy or not, it is importaint to understand that home appreciation is only loosely related to the latest selling prices. If most of the homes sold last year were starter homes and most of the homes sold this year were luxury homes, realtors would report huge price increases. It's never quite that simple, but the basic argument is sound. FHFA models same house prices from year to year. Their web site offers a technical description of their methodology ( ) as well as tutorial videos ( ). And, obviously, the inclusion of single family detached properties in all of Douglas County is particularly pertinent to the County Appraiser's Office -- not that it would much distort Lawrence homeowners' expectations.

jafs 1 year, 3 months ago

Understood - your comment about methodology seems sound.

But, this story is about Lawrence houses, not Douglas County as a whole. wilbur comments that it's spin, and distorts reality - I ask how.

chicago95 1 year, 3 months ago

I guess Wilbur will have to answer that one for himself.

I assume that Chad reports each month from press releases like the one that appears here: . Realtors, of course, have a vested interest in an active market, so I expect them to paint the rosiest picture possible, and I always take these reports with a grain of salt. In June, for example, the average sale priice of all homes rose 0.7%, even though the average sale price of existing homes (i.e., yours and mine, unless you are a builder) declined by 2.4%. Also notice that means and medians tell slightly different stories, as we would expect.

Journalists do have a responsibility to ask the tough questions. On many other stories, I have noticed that Chad has provided valuable context, rather than just a recitation ofa single party's point of view.

chicago95 1 year, 3 months ago

Here are the last ten years' data, extracted from . (Note that recent quarters are likely to be revised in subsequent reports.)

MSA FIPS Year Qtr Index Std Err Lawrence, KS 29940 2003 3 156.05 (1.54) Lawrence, KS 29940 2003 4 159.50 (1.64) Lawrence, KS 29940 2004 1 162.53 (1.67) Lawrence, KS 29940 2004 2 164.39 (1.67) Lawrence, KS 29940 2004 3 166.59 (1.74) Lawrence, KS 29940 2004 4 169.49 (1.79) Lawrence, KS 29940 2005 1 173.26 (1.87) Lawrence, KS 29940 2005 2 175.53 (1.87) Lawrence, KS 29940 2005 3 177.89 (1.87) Lawrence, KS 29940 2005 4 177.37 (1.93) Lawrence, KS 29940 2006 1 177.61 (1.99) Lawrence, KS 29940 2006 2 181.62 (1.92) Lawrence, KS 29940 2006 3 180.21 (1.93) Lawrence, KS 29940 2006 4 183.33 (2.00) Lawrence, KS 29940 2007 1 184.54 (2.05) Lawrence, KS 29940 2007 2 183.37 (1.96) Lawrence, KS 29940 2007 3 182.99 (1.96) Lawrence, KS 29940 2007 4 183.74 (2.01) Lawrence, KS 29940 2008 1 185.46 (1.95) Lawrence, KS 29940 2008 2 183.57 (1.98) Lawrence, KS 29940 2008 3 180.32 (1.99) Lawrence, KS 29940 2008 4 182.37 (2.11) Lawrence, KS 29940 2009 1 181.87 (1.90) Lawrence, KS 29940 2009 2 178.57 (1.87) Lawrence, KS 29940 2009 3 179.06 (1.98) Lawrence, KS 29940 2009 4 177.72 (1.94) Lawrence, KS 29940 2010 1 175.29 (2.03) Lawrence, KS 29940 2010 2 174.87 (1.98) Lawrence, KS 29940 2010 3 176.39 (1.89) Lawrence, KS 29940 2010 4 177.05 (1.92) Lawrence, KS 29940 2011 1 173.30 (2.07) Lawrence, KS 29940 2011 2 174.10 (2.08) Lawrence, KS 29940 2011 3 174.37 (1.94) Lawrence, KS 29940 2011 4 175.95 (1.97) Lawrence, KS 29940 2012 1 175.54 (2.01) Lawrence, KS 29940 2012 2 173.82 (2.01) Lawrence, KS 29940 2012 3 174.02 (1.96) Lawrence, KS 29940 2012 4 175.67 (1.97) Lawrence, KS 29940 2013 1 175.38 (2.04) Lawrence, KS 29940 2013 2 174.66 (2.08)

chicago95 1 year, 3 months ago

Sorry. The comment section folds lines badly, and I have been unable to fix it,

chicago95 1 year, 3 months ago

YearQtrIndexStd Err
20033156.05 (1.54)
20034159.50 (1.64)
20041162.53 (1.67)
20042164.39 (1.67)
20043166.59 (1.74)
20044169.49 (1.79)
20051173.26 (1.87)
20052175.53 (1.87)
20053177.89 (1.87)
20054177.37 (1.93)
20061177.61 (1.99)
20062181.62 (1.92)
20063180.21 (1.93)
20064183.33 (2.00)
20071184.54 (2.05)
20072183.37 (1.96)
20073182.99 (1.96)
20074183.74 (2.01)
20081185.46 (1.95)
20082183.57 (1.98)
20083180.32 (1.99)
20084182.37 (2.11)
20091181.87 (1.90)
20092178.57 (1.87)
20093179.06 (1.98)
20094177.72 (1.94)
20101175.29 (2.03)
20102174.87 (1.98)
20103176.39 (1.89)
20104177.05 (1.92)
20111173.30 (2.07)
20112174.10 (2.08)
20113174.37 (1.94)
20114175.95 (1.97)
20121175.54 (2.01)
20122173.82 (2.01)
20123174.02 (1.96)
20124175.67 (1.97)
20131175.38 (2.04)
20132174.66 (2.08)

jafs 1 year, 3 months ago


What exactly are those numbers? I don't know how to interpret and analyze them.

chicago95 1 year, 3 months ago

It''s a little complicated, but the index, which for Lawrence is currently at 174.66, is measured for every metropolitan area in the nation. In each region, the average price of a single-family detached dwelling in the first quarter of 1980 serves as the baseline, whose value is 100. From quarter to quarter, the index represents the appreciation of houses that existed in the previous period; that is, new constructon is excluded until it is resold or refinanced. Lawrence housing values peaked in the first quarter of 2008 (index = 185..46), declined to 174.87 in the second quarter of 2010, and have floated around that level ever since. (The first time that it rose through this level was the second quarter of 2005.) This is all easy to see on a graph, but I haven't figured out how to post one here in the comment section.

jafs 1 year, 3 months ago

Ok. So they're excluding new construction, which would clearly skew the numbers from the actual market.

Why do that, if you're interested in actual market values of houses that sell?

jafs 1 year, 3 months ago

Never mind. I figured it out. New construction prices don't indicate anything about market value of selling existing homes, which is what most of us are interested in.

jafs 1 year, 3 months ago

Again, are you claiming that the article which says "selling prices" is incorrect?

The costs for owners to fix stuff up before they sell homes are generally not included in prices. It's certainly worth knowing, of course, but hardly fraudulent if the paper doesn't include them.

It's very hard to understand what you're trying to say, since it shifts around. If you're saying that county appraisals are often off from actual sale prices, I'd agree with that. For many years, the county appraisals were quite a bit under market value, and recently it appears the reverse may be true.

However, none of that suggests that the reporting in this story is inaccurate, only that it doesn't include everything you'd like it to include.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 3 months ago

What is there to celebrate about home prices rising?

Do we want the powers that be to once again inflate the values of our homes so we homeowners can pay more taxes? To the point that in reality homes never produce a profit.....for the homeowners.

Do we people of Lawrence want to encourage another cost of living increase? That seems counter productive.

jafs 1 year, 3 months ago

If houses were previously selling for even more below the county value and listing prices, then they could be selling for below those but be selling for higher prices now.

Well, if realtors get paid on commission, then they want higher sale prices as well, since they make more money that way.

In our neighborhood, a house recently sold for quite a bit more than I expected, which is good news for us.

jafs 1 year, 3 months ago

I don't know if the house on our block sold above county value, and it's not important for my point, which is that it sold for more than I expected, and yes, more than I thought it should sell for, given the work that needs to be done on it.

You seem to be fixated on the difference between county valuation and actual sale prices - were you terribly upset when for many years, houses routinely sold for quite a bit above county valuations, or is it only when it's the other way around?

I agree that ideally county values would be inline with market values - not sure exactly why that isn't and hasn't been the case. But, when they were lower, nobody complained, because it meant lower taxes.

Tomato 1 year, 2 months ago

Well, this is anecdotal - primarily because I don't really know how to look up the stats. But over in west Lawrence, houses are selling like hot cakes. They're on the market for less than a week.

A couple of months ago, I started looking at listings for the homes and I thought they were crazy - way above county appraisal, way more than I thought they'd sell for. I figured they'd rot on the market. Instead they sell immediately.

The increase has been staggering - from $90-100/sq ft to $120-$140/sq ft - within the span of a year.

I understand that maybe in some neighborhoods, homes are selling for below county, but in the $300,000-$500,000 range, they are selling fast and high. And that range will pull up your average.

Steve Jacob 1 year, 3 months ago

Interest rates where so low for years and no one jumped in, you had to assume people would hurry up and buy right before rates where going up, and that's what happened the first half of 2013. This is what a recovery looks like, higher gas and home prices.

Steve Jacob 1 year, 3 months ago

Interest rates where so low for years and no one jumped in, you had to assume people would hurry up and buy right before rates where going up, and that's what happened the first half of 2013. This is what a recovery looks like, higher gas and home prices.

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