Posted on October 27, 2010 by Mike Means

Homebuyers, sellers find a way to strike deals and keep prices firm

Home sales dropped last month in the Oklahoma City area, but prices remained firm or better compared with a year ago, according to the Metro Association of Realtors.


Published: July 31, 2010

Home sales fell in June, but homes sold faster here than a year ago even as sellers dug in and buyers gave in, keeping prices at summer 2009 levels or better.

The average sale price of $160,570 was virtually flat compared with the average of $159,400 in June 2009, but the median price of $138,000 was a 2.2 percent increase from the year-ago median of $135,000, according to the Oklahoma City Metro Association of Realtors. The median price is considered a better gauge of the market because one-half of sales prices were higher and one-half were lower.

Homes sell faster

Homes sold in an average of 75 days last month, a day longer than in May but nine days faster than in June 2009. Sales were "stable over the metro area," said Dave Moeller, president of the Realtors group and broker-owner of Redbud Realty & Associates in Edmond. Firm pricing "is indicative of the strength and stability of our market."

Realtors handled the sale of 1,565 houses in June, a drop of 6 percent from June 2009 and a decrease of 6.2 percent from the month before, when the federal first-time homebuyer tax credit was thought to still be driving sales. Realtors who quit the business during slow times may have left more for the rest to do.

Bidding wars?

"Actually, I've been pretty darn busy," said Linda Finch, a sales associate with Paradigm AdvantEdge Real Estate, 16301 N May Ave. Heightened sales activity may have helped even out the marketplace after prolonged buyer dominance.

Finch said she's dealing with multiple offers on the houses she lists, "even though the tax credit's over"  and some buyers in bidding wars are paying more than sellers are asking.

She said three offers came in four days for an extensively remodeled home in Edmond's Sorghum Mill Estates addition, near Sorghum Mill Road and N Kelly Avenue. The 2,918-square-foot, four-bedroom, three-bath home, built in 1974 on 2 1/2 acres, sold for $292,000 and the sellers were asking for $289,900.

"I about fell over."

In west Oklahoma City, Finch said multiple offers came in on a 1,808-square-foot house with four bedrooms and two baths, a 2004 home that sold for the full asking price of $169,900.

Appraisal headaches

"What I am having trouble with is appraisals," she said, meaning appraisals coming in at less than a buyer and seller have already settled on. Misunderstandings surrounding the Home Valuation Code of Conduct put in place in May 2009 by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had lenders hiring inexperienced appraisers. Appraisers using short sales and foreclosed houses as comparables were not taking the nature of those transactions into consideration when formulating values on new houses and formerly occupied ones what were not in trouble. Fannie Mae recently took steps to rectify such extremes.

Finch said buyers and sellers are picking their way through such bureaucratic briars to strike deals. For example, the appraisal on a house in Bethany came in $5,000 shy of the agreed-upon price and the buyer and seller split the difference.

"I've had three where the buyers paid more than the appraised value."

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