Lawrence’s tight housing market gets tighter in June as prices increase; buyers increasingly paying more than asking price

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If you are cruising around Lawrence and see someone wearing running spikes and toting about $15,000 in cash, the scene probably isn’t Olympic related. Instead, it might be someone simply trying to buy a house in town. The latest home sale numbers show you had better be fast and have some extra money to sweeten your offer.

“Each month, it seems like I report the same thing about the Lawrence real estate market,” John Huntington Jr., president of the Lawrence Board of Realtors, said via the group’s monthly report. “The buyers continue to outnumber the houses that are for sale, and homes do not stay on the market for very long.”

Huntington now is labeling the environment in Lawrence an “unprecedented sellers market.” Like Huntington, I feel like I’m kind of saying the same thing each month about how hot the market has become. My go-to statistic often is the median number of days a home sits on the market before it sells. It was down to just three days in June. That has been the story for months, though.

Here’s a bit of a new statistic, however. The board’s June report states that homes in the $200,000 to $249,999 range sold for nearly 7% more than their asking price in June. In other words, if a home was listed for $200,000, chances are you were going to have to pay just under $215,000 to seal the deal on that house.

That price range was the most competitive in the Lawrence market, but others were close behind. Homes in the $250,000 to $299,999 range were selling for 4% above their asking price, on a median average basis. Homes in the $150,000 to $199,999 range were selling for 3.2% more than their asking price.

The tight and expensive market did start to keep some buyers away in June. The report shows the number of homes sold in June in Lawrence fell by about 4% compared to June 2020 totals.

Prices, however, continued to move aggressively upward. The median selling price for a home in Lawrence was $270,000 in June, up 13.2% compared to June 2020. Looking more broadly, the year-to-date numbers show an even greater increase in prices. Through the first six months of the year, the median selling price of homes in Lawrence stands at $264,900, an increase of 16.2% from the same period a year ago.

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

• Lawrence is on pace to have fewer homes sold this year than last year. Total home sales through June were 613, down from 622 at the same point in 2020. However, it would be hard to say that the local real estate industry is having a down year. The total dollar amount of all homes sold is up 18.4% due to the rising prices. Agents have sold $182.4 million worth of homes thus far in 2021, compared to $154.1 million at this point in 2020.

• The decline in home sales in Lawrence can be attributed to fewer newly constructed homes being sold. Agents have sold only 64 newly constructed homes thus far in 2021, down 12% from a year ago. The number of existing homes sold has held steady from 2020 levels.

• Selling prices for newly constructed homes aren’t rising as fast as those for existing homes. The median selling price for a newly constructed home is $339,925 thus far in 2021, up 4.9% from a year ago.

• The number of homes on the Lawrence market continues to be at historic lows. There were 98 active listings in June, down from 166 in June 2020 and down from 293 in June 2019.


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