2013-09-11 / Front Page

Home sales hit 6-year high, signal recovery

By Michael Buettner

The county’s housing market continued to show strength in July, with the number of homes sold reaching its highest level in three years and the total dollar value of those sales hitting its highest point in nearly six years.

According to the latest figures from the county Department of Real Estate Assessment, 629 new or existing homes changed hands in July, up 49 from June and up 85 from the same month last year. It was the highest figure since June 2010, when 637 homes were sold.

The total sale value of the homes sold in July amounted to $148.4 million, up $9.2 million from June and up $24.3 million, or about 20 percent, from July 2012. That figure was the highest since September 2007, when 692 homes sold for a total of $188.4 million.

In another sign of strength, 375 of the homes sold in July, or about 60 percent of the total, fetched prices above their assessed value, the third month in a row that’s happened. Prior to May, the majority of homes sold below their assessed value consistently for almost five years.

Even so, prices overall eased slightly during the month. The median price – the level at which half of all sales were higher and half were lower – slipped to $205,000 in July from $211,475, a 3.1 percent decline. However, the July level was still the second-highest in more than three years.

Helping prices maintain their overall level was the first sale this year above the million-dollar level. A 5,300-square-foot home in the Reed’s Landing subdivision off Old Gun Road changed hands for $1.04 million, according to county property records. The house was built in 2008 and had been listed for sale and delisted several times since then.

Until that sale in July, the last million-dollar deal in the county was in September 2012, when a 5,200-square-foot house in the Bexley subdivision changed hands for $1.2 million. Four other homes sold above the million-dollar mark earlier in 2012.

The second-highest price fetched so far this year was for another house in Reed’s Landing, a 5,500-squarefoot home that sold for $925,000 in June.

As usual, Brandermill was by far the busiest neighborhood for resales, with 30 homes changing hands for a total of $6.3 million. Woodlake was a distant second, posting 16 sales for a total of $3.9 million.

Homebuilders remained optimistic throughout the summer, if the number of new permits for single-family home construction is any indication. In July, 97 permits were issued, according to the Building Inspection Department, and another 91 in August, bringing the year-to-date total through August to 694, the highest figure since 2008, when 700 permits were issued in the first eight months of the year.

Magnolia Green, usually the top subdivision for new home construction in recent years, was surpassed recently by Collington, where a total of 25 permits were issued in July and August compared with 20 for Magnolia Green.

Brookcreek Crossing, with 11 permits, and Heron Pointe at Swift Creek, with nine, were also among the busiest subdivisions for construction in recent months.

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