Home sales on way up here

Published 1:38 pm Monday, April 6, 2009

Are home sales picking up in Shelby County?

That seems to be the experience many developers and real estate agents are reporting from their work in February and early March here.

Bob McDonald, who lives in Chelsea and is a Realtor with RE/MAX Southern Homes, said buyers who have been holding out waiting for better interest rates and better home prices are buying now.

“My personal activity has picked up and every agent I know is saying the same thing,” he said.

McDonald said one of his clients, who is relocating to Shelby County from the Atlanta area, sent him a list of 12 homes he wanted to see over a recent weekend.

“From the time he sent the list to when he arrived to look at the houses, four of them had been sold. That was in less than a week’s time,” he said.

It is still a buyer’s market, McDonald said, because the inventory of homes for sale continues to outnumber buyers in the market, but the gap is narrowing.

“In my evaluation, home prices have bottomed out and aren’t going down any more. Interest rates are at the bottom or very near the bottom,” McDonald said.

“Frankly, I don’t think any of the stimulus stuff is responsible for this. To tell you the truth, I think waiting to see what the stimulus package included actually slowed things down because people were thinking that it would eventually help. I think buyers have kind of realized they need to get on with their life,” he said.

Despite the increase in homes sales here, McDonald cautioned sellers to be realistic.

“You are either a buyer or a seller and I think it is the best time for either side. Everyone wishes they could push back a couple of years to when there wasn’t enough inventory on the market and housing prices were higher, but I don’t see that happening for a long time. Sellers should either price their homes right or get it off the market,” he said.

“For buyers, I would be very surprised if it gets any better than right now. In fact, I would not be surprised if prices start going back up, though they won’t go up very quickly.”

Developers, like Thornton Homes in Cottages at Chesser in Chelsea, have sold most of their existing inventory and have started construction on two new spec homes, McDonald said.

“Same thing in Chelsea Park. I talked to the agent over there and they are getting lots of activity. Sales aren’t pouring in, but they are steady,” he said.