Home sales in Smith County rebounded in August from a disappointing July, but real estate agents said they’re now watching for the “election effect” - a slowdown in the markets due to a looming presidential election.
A total of 254 homes were sold in August, up from July’s 238 homes. That’s an increase of 6.7 percent, month-to-month.
That figure is still slightly below August 2015’s 260 homes, but it’s an improvement, said Claudia Carroll, who chairs the Greater Tyler Association of Realtors.
“It’s an improvement,” she said. “I think this signals that there’s no shift, no downward trend has started at this time. We’ve been watching for a shift, because we’ve seen elsewhere in the country that things are slowing down. I feel confident that we remain insulated from what’s happening.”
But September and October could see less activity because of the pending Nov. 8 general election.
“It’s the craziest phenomenon,” Ms. Carroll said. “I’ve been doing this 22 years, and in every presidential election without an incumbent, it gets very quiet in September and October. And, frankly, it’s getting quiet again. The phones aren’t ringing quite as much.”
She said elections generate a mood of uncertainty.
“Once the election is over, and Armageddon didn’t happen, and the Rapture of the church didn’t happen, then folks realize that we’re all going to be fine and they’re ready to get back into the market,” she said. “It really is a nationwide phenomenon.”
The average price, and median price of homes sold, both increased in August. The average price went from $204,148 in July to $216,667 in August. That’s an increase of about 6.1 percent. But it’s slightly less than August 2015’s average home price of $217,602.
The median price also saw an increase. It went from $170,700 in July to $175,500 in August, an improvement of about 2.8 percent.
The median home price is the midpoint of home sales prices - in this case, the selling price of the 127th home sold in Smith County in August.
It’s a useful gauge, because it isn’t skewed by unusually high (or unusually low) home prices.
“Both the average and the median are more than last month but less than a year ago,” Ms. Carroll said. “In fact, the last three months have been less than the previous year. That’s telling me that in June, our higher end listings began seeing a slowdown in activity and closings. The top end of our market has slowed.”
Inventory is also a big factor, and the inventory of available homes is tight, she said. Inventory is seen in the days-on-market figure. That’s how long a home, on average, is up for sale before finding a buyer.
That number was down in August, with an average days-on-market of 49, compared to July’s 58 days.
“That shows that the more affordable homes that come on the market get snapped up pretty quickly,” Ms. Carroll said. “The higher end homes skew that number; it’s a Bell curve, really. The higher end homes tend to be on the market longer. But the August days-on-market shows that the cheaper homes are moving.”
She cited a $3.5 million home in Tyler that has been on the market for more than a year.
“Those buyers just don’t come along every day,” she said.
Another measure of inventory is expressed in months - how long, based on the past year’s sales rate, it would take to clear out existing inventory with no more homes introduced into the market.
In August, that number dropped to 5.7 months, from July’s 5.8 months.