Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nashville home sales rise for first time in 3 years

Nashville-area real estate agents applauded last week when Congress extended a series of tax incentives designed to boost home sales, and on Monday, the latest monthly numbers showed the area has already seen sharp gains in sales — particularly among first-time home buyers.
In fact, the Nashville real estate market saw its first increase in home sales in three years in October, when the number of completed deals jumped 23 percent compared with a year earlier as a result of the federal government's aid.

Agents attributed the double-digit increase to more first-time buyers scrambling to take advantage of what had been an expiring $8,000 tax credit, which Congress has now extended into next summer. Congress also added a new $6,500 tax credit for others who have lived in their current residence at least five consecutive years in the past eight. If they buy a new home before June 30, they get the smaller tax break.

Real estate sales professionals hope the new incentives keep sales rolling and prop up the market over the winter, when the pace of sales normally slows.

RelatedHome sales rise

"The phone calls I'm receiving, the open houses, I just feel like there is so much more positive energy right now than a year ago,'' said Christie Wilson, president of Wilson Group Real Estate Services in Nashville. "A year ago, it was unnerving how scared the marketplace was. Right now, everyone is cautiously optimistic. That wasn't true a year ago."

The Greater Nashville Association of Realtors also reported that the median sales price for a single-family home in October stayed the same as the past three months — $160,000 — or a 6 percent decline from a year ago.

Realtors said that was a sign that first-time home buyers, who tend to buy less expensive homes, are continuing to affect prices. The median price for a condominium sold was $144,000, down 5.6 percent from the same month a year earlier.

Tax credit is popular

Tennesseans in particular seem to love the federal tax credits.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office said last month that Tennessee had the fifth-highest rate
per capita of people taking advantage of the first-time home buyer credit, with 35,836 people taking $256 million worth of tax breaks as of Aug. 22.

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Real Estate Outlook: Warning of Slow Down?Home sales shoot up 9.4 percent as buyers race to get tax credit