Posts tagged with Home Sales

Lawrence home sales slip slightly in 2014; Douglas County Bank changes name to Central Bank of the Midwest

For some reason, I really do have enough ribbon that I could have wrapped an entire house in a bow this Christmas season. (See photo below.) Apparently several people did just that because Lawrence home sales soared in December, although not enough to put local real estate totals in positive territory for 2014.

Real estate agents sold 76 homes in Lawrence in December, up 33 percent from the same period a year ago. Sales of newly constructed homes did even better, with eight sales compared with just one in December 2013.

But for the year, Lawrence’s two-year streak of increasing home sales has ended, according to a new report by the Lawrence Board of Realtors. Lawrence home sales totaled 1,059 for all of 2014, falling just short of the 1,061 homes sold in 2013. So, while technically it was a down year for the market, those numbers could have ended up much worse. In August, we were reporting that homes sales year over year were down almost 6 percent. The final few months of 2014 finished strong, which gives reason for optimism that housing sales will make gains in 2015.

The 2014 numbers also are well above recent lows. In 2012 only 905 Lawrence homes were sold, and the market hit its bottom in 2011 with 703 homes sold.

Here’s a look at some other numbers from the report:

— December’s strong showing notwithstanding, 2014 was not a good year for sales of newly constructed homes. Only 76 newly constructed homes sold for the year.. That’s down from 94 in 2013 and 89 in 2012.

— Agents sold $208.9 million worth of homes in Lawrence in 2014. That’s down 4 percent from the $217.6 million total in 2013. It is up, however, from the $172.2 million mark in 2012.

— The median number of days a house sits on the market before it sells was 34 in 2014, down from 42 in 2013 and 59 in 2012.

— The median selling price of a home checked in at $167,000, down 1.8 percent from the 2013 median of $170,000.

In case you are wondering how Lawrence’s housing market is faring compared with our neighbors in Kansas City, it appears the K.C. metro area also experienced a bit of a plateau in home sales in 2014. A new report from the Kansas City Regional Association of Realtors said total home sales in 2014 were up 0.1 percent in the metro area. But unlike in Lawrence, sales of newly constructed homes led the way with a 3.3 percent gain for the year. Home prices also were up. The median selling price for homes checked in at $159,900, up 4.9 percent from 2013.

This really is all ribbon. To give you perspective on its size, lying upon it is my neighbor, who dresses curiously like a Lego figurine.

This really is all ribbon. To give you perspective on its size, lying upon it is my neighbor, who dresses curiously like a Lego figurine. by Chad Lawhorn

In other news and notes from around town:

• Unless the sofa cushions are even bigger than your ribbon stash, most people have to use a bank to buy a new home. Well, get ready to see a name change at one of the larger banks in the city. As we previously reported, Douglas County Bank reached a deal to merge with Lee’s Summit, Mo.-based Metcalf Bank. Although the plan in September, when the deal was announced, was for Douglas County Bank to take on the Metcalf name, that now won’t happen.

Instead, the new name of the bank is Central Bank of the Midwest. The name change took place in the last several days as the deal was closed, but the signs on the bank haven’t yet changed. Local president Pat Slabaugh told me he expects all the company’s banks to have new signs in the first or second week of February.

In case you are confused (which I often am at a bank because my wife makes me guess our ATM PIN code), Douglas County Bank didn’t scrap its previously announced deal and go partner with a different bank. Instead, what happened is that Metcalf Bank, subsequent to the September announcement of its deal with Douglas County Bank, changed its name to Central Bank of the Midwest.

Although the sale is now complete, the transition process for Douglas County Bank customers to become full-fledged Central Bank of the Midwest customers is still ongoing. Slabaugh said by late March that Douglas County Bank customers should be transitioned over to a new online system run by Central Bank of the Midwest. Customers of the bank will receive significant notice about the transition and any steps they’ll need to take, Slabaugh said. In the meantime, all ATM cards, Douglas County Bank checks and other such items will continue to work.

The big news continues to be that Central Bank of the Midwest will keep open all of the existing Douglas County Bank locations.

“The philosophy of Central Bank of the Midwest is very much the same as Douglas County Bank,” Slabaugh said. “They’re a community bank and we will continue to do business as usual in that regard.”

Central Bank of the Midwest is part of a bank holding company that is family owned. The bank holding company, Central Bancompany, has been owned by the Cook family of Jefferson City, Mo., for four generations. The holding company owns more than a dozen banks in Missouri, Kansas, Illinois and Oklahoma.


Lawrence home sales take dip in March; city releases dates and attendance estimates for Rock Chalk Park tourneys; library closed through Friday

All the signs of spring have sprung at my house: dandelions in the yard, 4-H pigs in the driveway, and three closets full of Easter candy bought on clearance. So, in other words, normal stuff. But there is one spring quirk to keep an eye on right now: the Lawrence housing market.

Home sales in March fell by 15.8 percent compared with March 2013 totals, according to the latest report from the Lawrence Board of Realtors. That's no reason to panic, though. (In other words, step away from the pig and put the barbecue sauce down.) What that means in real numbers is that agents sold 64 Lawrence homes in March compared with 76 in March 2013.

But the trend is one to keep an eye on. March's poor performance turned the year-to-date home sale numbers into negative territory. For the year, Lawrence home sales total 157, which is down 3.1 percent from the same time a year ago. Lawrence's real estate market hit bottom in 2011 and has been on the upswing since then. Local real estate agents certainly are hoping for a third straight year of increasing sales.

The 3.1 percent decline isn't a big number to make up, but it is noteworthy because of where we are in the season. April, May and June are important months for the Lawrence real estate market. April is often considered the height of the spring-selling season, so about this time next month we'll have a report that will show whether March was a blip or the beginning of a new trend.

There is one number in the most recent report that creates some concern for April sales. The number of pending contracts in March was down 8 percent compared with the same period a year earlier. Those pending contracts sometimes are a good indicator of what to expect in the next month.

Here are some other numbers from the most recent report:

— Sales volume in Lawrence — measured by the total dollar amount of residential real estate sold in the city — is down 6.4 percent compared with the same period a year ago. It stands at $31.3 million at the end of March. That, however, is still a significant increase from 2012 totals, when $22.1 million had been sold.

— Most of the decline in home sales has come on the new construction front. Thus far in 2014, only nine newly constructed homes have sold, down from 13 a year earlier.

— The median selling price of a home is largely unchanged from a year ago at $165,000.

— The median number of days a house sits on the market has increased to 75 days, up from 68 a year ago.

— The number of active listings on the Lawrence market stood at 374 at the end of March, down about 8 percent from the 408 in March 2013.

As I said earlier, next month's report will be one to keep an eye on — just like that pig in the house. If he figures out how to get that closet door open, we're going to have a real mess.

In other news and notes from around town:

• We reported a few weeks ago that officials with the city's Parks and Recreation Department had started booking tournaments for the new 181,000-square-foot recreation center at Rock Chalk Park. Well, now we have more details about when those tournaments will be and just how many people they may draw to town.

Here's a look at the information available thus far:

— Nov. 16: Mid America Youth Basketball Tournament: estimated attendance 750 people;

— Dec. 7: Mid America Youth Basketball Tournament: estimated attendance not provided;

— Dec. 12-14: AGAPE Hoops Productions Basketball Tournament: estimated attendance 1,000 people:

— Dec. 27: Blue Valley Juniors Athletic Association Volleyball Tournament: estimated attendance 1,200 people;

— Jan. 3-4 Heart of America Volleyball Tournament: estimated attendance 1,500 people.

Obviously, a couple of those tournaments involve the possibility of overnight visitors to Lawrence. What isn't known currently is how far of a geographic reach these tournaments are designed to have. But what is clear is that interest is high in the new facility, which is scheduled to be open in September. Officials with Parks and Recreation have told me that in addition to the chance to play in a new facility, tournament organizers like the facility's location between Topeka and Kansas City.

• If you are hoping to find your favorite book about spring or leftover Easter candy or 4-H pigs, you'll need to look somewhere other than the Lawrence Public Library this week. The library will be closed Monday through Friday for a major project to add RFID tags to the approximately 200,000 items in its collection. The RFID system will increase the speed of checkout at the new library and also should decrease the amount of time it takes library staff members to reshelve books. Library officials are noting that people who have books due during this week won't accrue any late fines if they are not returned this week, although I think you can still return them via the outdoor drop box.

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    Home sales in city up by 7 percent for 2014; update on city bus hub; more numbers on Rock Chalk Park infrastructure

    I spent my weekend hosting an overnight birthday party for six 11-year old boys, so I know a thing or two about being in the market for more space (You know what they say: Two's company, three's a crowd, and six is an insane asylum.)

    According to the latest report from the Lawrence Board of Realtors, there were a few other space-hunters out there as well. Through February of 2014, home sales in the city are up a solid 7 percent compared with the same period a year ago.

    February isn't particularly a big month for home sales, but the next several months sure are. The spring season will go a long way in determining whether Lawrence's real estate market posts a third straight year of rising sales.

    It is a little too soon yet to predict whether that will be the case. While home sales are up for the year, the pace of growth does seem to be slowing some in recent months. For example, February's home sales were up just 4 percent compared with February 2013. That continues a slowdown trend that began about midyear 2013. During the first half of 2013, sales were up 29 percent over the same period a year earlier. In the second half of 2013, sales growth slowed to 6 percent. But all of this may be me just being unnecessarily jittery. (Funny how watching a golf cart loaded with six boys jumping through a ring of fire will do that to you.)

    Regardless, here's a look at some other statistics from the most recent report.

    — The number of active listings on the Lawrence market is down to 344, which is about 7 percent less than a year ago. That drop generally has been viewed as a positive sign that the market has heated up from where it was a few years ago. It is interesting to note that the number of newly constructed homes on the market is 45, which is up from 32 a year ago. That's a sign that builders have had more confidence in the market in recent months. Whether that confidence will be repaid is the big question for the spring season. In February, only one newly constructed home sold. That's down from six a year earlier.

    — The median sale price for homes in 2014 is $149,700, down 14 percent from a year ago. But I wouldn't pay much attention to those numbers just yet. The drop likely is due to the small sample size, not a reflection that housing values are going down . The numbers, though, are probably a good indication that smaller, less expensive houses are what's selling best right now.

    — The median number of days that a home sits on the market before selling is 84, which is almost unchanged from 86 a year ago.

    — The number of pending contracts at the end of February was 93, down from 143 at the end of February 2013. Pending contracts are a decent indicator of what to expect in the month ahead, so this may be the one number that creates some concern for the industry. The 93 contracts, however, are still a pretty healthy number, but just not the huge number that was posted a year ago.

    Bottom line: We'll just have to wait and see where all this lands. If nothing else, the golf cart has taught me that.

    In other news and notes from around town:

    • If you are interested in the city's transit system, mark your calendars for April 21. The city has scheduled a meeting at 6 p.m. at Fire Station No. 5, 19th and Iowa streets, to further discuss the possibility of placing a new transit center along Iowa Street.

    As we reported in October, the city has an interest in vacant property near 21st and Iowa streets to use as a transit hub, which would serve as the main transfer point for bus routes in the city. The city has conducted a traffic analysis for the area, and wants to share the results of that study with neighborhood members and others at the April 21 meeting.

    City commissioners likely will be asked to make a decision on the site sometime in May. The site is on the northeast corner of 21st and Iowa streets. City officials also had been interested in a site near Ninth and Iowa streets, basically behind The Merc's building. But as we reported in October, KU officials haven't been wild about that site. KU — which also will use the hub for many of its bus routes — wanted a location closer to campus. The owners of the Ninth and Iowa property also must not be wild about the idea. City officials said they recently have not been successful in setting up any discussions with the owners of the Ninth and Iowa property.

    We reported a couple of weeks ago about how construction crews are racing to get a lot of street, parking lot and other infrastructure work done at Rock Chalk Park ahead of the Kansas Relays in mid-April.

    Well, the city has produced a new report on Rock Chalk Park work, and it gives a few more numbers on how the project is proceeding. Among the findings:

    — At the end of December 54 percent of all the infrastructure work at the complex was complete. That is about $6.6 million of the projected $12.2 million in infrastructure costs. As it currently stands, the city is projected to pay for about $10 million of that work. Bill Self's Assists Foundation is projected to pay for up $2 million of the work. Neither Kansas University, nor the private development group that will own the property, is currently projected to pay for any of the infrastructure work.

    — An update on how much infrastructure work was done at the end of February wasn't included in the report. But the report noted no infrastructure work was completed in January because of the weather.

    — In February, city inspectors noticed the site wasn't complying with regulations designed to keep construction dirt and other materials out of city storm sewers. Inspectors issued a notice of violation to the project, with instructions to add appropriate sediment barriers to the site within two weeks. City staff reports the corrections were made.

    — As previously reported, some cracks have shown up on the concrete parking lots and streets at the project. City staff members now have more precise numbers on that issue. After walking the entire project, about 3 percent of the panels in the parking lot have cracks and about 2 percent in the streets are cracked. The report notes that the developer will need to make repairs to the panels before the work is accepted by the city.

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    Lawrence home sales continue rise in 2013, builders begin to pick up pace on new construction

    Maybe 13 is a lucky number in this case. Lawrence home sales for the 13th month in a row have posted year-over-year gains, but the more striking fact is the improvement in almost every category real estate observers care about.

    According to the new report from the Lawrence Board of Realtors, agents sold 102 Lawrence homes in April, a 45 percent increase over April 2012.

    In a departure from past months, even newly constructed homes sold well. Builders sold 13 new homes, compared to just four in April 2012. To put the number in perspective, Lawrence builders had sold only 13 homes in the previous three months of 2013 combined.

    The April numbers continue what has been a good start to 2013. For the year, 261 homes have been sold in Lawrence, up about 32 percent from 2012 totals and up 45 percent from same period in 2011. The number of newly built homes sold checks in at 26, up from 17 at this time in 2012 and 18 in 2011.

    Sales of newly built homes will be a number to really keep an eye on. New home construction has more potential to boost the Lawrence economy than people simply buying and selling existing homes. That’s obviously because new construction involves employing people to build and houses and develop neighborhoods.

    A couple of numbers that builders will keep an eye on are the number of days a house stays on the market before it sells, and the number of homes actively listed. Both numbers showed some bullish signs in the last month.

    The median days on market for a home is now at 66, down from 88 in April 2012. The number of homes on the market also has fallen to 419, down nearly 32 percent from the 613 listed in April 2012. The number of newly built homes on the market is at 29, down from 56 in April 2012 and from 63 in April 2011.

    As the market has picked up, there are signs that prices have too. The median selling price on homes in 2013 stands at $167,000, up 7.8 percent from the same period in 2012. It is always tough to gauge pricing trends just from this report, but at this time last year, the Lawrence real estate market was showing signs of a real price correction. Last year, at the end of April, the median home price was down about 10.2 percent.

    The new numbers certainly have put new bounce in the step of local real estate agents.

    “These recent statistics reflect a dramatic shift in our local market,” said John Esau, president of the Lawrence Board of Realtors.

    Esau, in fact, went so far as to say he believe the market now has shifted from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market.

    We’ll see what May brings: Perhaps lucky 14.

    ••• There’s another report out that shows Lawrence home builders are slowly starting to ramp up their production. According to a new report from the city, 17 building permits were issued in April for single-family and duplex homes.

    That’s the highest April number in at least five years. For all of 2013, the city has issued 59 single-family and duplex permits, which is 20 more than it issued during the same time period in 2012.

    Other items from the April report include:

    • For the year, the city has issued permits for $54.8 million worth of projects, up 63 percent from the same period a year ago. The $54.8 million is by far the best showing of the last five years. The average since 2009 has been about $27.5 million worth of projects.

    • Apartment construction continues to be strong in Lawrence. The city has issued permits for 374 apartment units thus far in 2013. That’s the highest total of the last five years. Since 2009, the average has been about 105 units.

    • Apartment construction was a big part of the $19.8 million worth of permits issued in April. Camson South — one of two apartment projects just west of Wal-Mart on Sixth Street — pulled permits for a $5.5 million project that includes 88 apartments and a clubhouse. Other large projects include phase I of the Rock Chalk Park project, including construction of the track and field stadium. Lawrence-based DFC Company pulled $6 million in permits for that project. Discount Tire also pulled a $1 million permit for work on its new store at 4741 Bauer Farm Drive, just west of the new Starbucks in that area. Several of you have asked about the timeline for the new Discount Tire location, and I do have a call into the company. I’ll let you know when I hear more.

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