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 WASHINGTON, May 18 /PRNewswire/ -- The return of the trade-up buyer is boosting home sales in many markets around the country, according to some of the nation's largest brokers.
 In its second informal "snapshot" telephone survey by the National Association of Realtors, most of the 14 leading real estate brokers questioned last week said their home sales business was up significantly in April compared to the same month a year earlier.
 They said much of the buying activity last month was in the trade-up market, which is a departure from an earlier survey, in which they reported most of the January sales occurring in the entry-level market.
 "The fact that trade-up buyers are returning to the market, is evidence of the housing recovery gathering steam, which is good news for the whole economy," said Dorcas T. Helfant, president of the National Association of Realtors. "And, the variation in responses, ranging from very strong market improvements to mildly decreased sales activity, reflects the local nature of housing markets. Factors ranging from employment opportunities to weather can affect buyer behavior from one market to the next," she said.
 Following is a summary of broker responses. All respondents were asked to compare their firm's residential sales activity in April 1992 with April 1991:
 -- Prudential Florida Realty, Orlando, Fla., reported a 128 percent improvement in home sales dollar volume and a 118 percent improvement in unit volume, with the resale market showing more strength than the new-home market.
 -- Beth Wolff & Associates, Houston, reported that home sales were down about 7 percent, but dollar volume was up about 3 percent, reflecting an increase in the median price to nearly $79,600, from $70,100. "Until recently, first-time buyers were leading the market, but trade-up purchasers are now returning to the market, so the median price is increasing."
 -- HER Realtors, Columbus, Ohio, reported a 28 percent increase in the number of closings. During the first four months of this year, the dollar volume under contract was up nearly 40 percent from the same period a year ago. "The Columbus market is hotter than a pistol. Interest rates remain below 9 percent here, and that's helped fuel sales cross the whole spectrum, from first-time buyers on up."
 -- Blake & Davis, Realtors, St. Louis, reported a 63.3 percent increase in dollar volume and a 52.6 percent jump in unit volume. The average sales price of their listings was up 8.6 percent. "The entry-level market boosted the trade-up market ... the last couple of homes we sold in four days. They are going that fast."
 -- Weichert, Realtors, Morris Plains, N.J., reported a 26 percent increase in sales. "We attribute the upswing to the reemergence of the move-up buyer. Several months ago, we saw the resurgence of the first-time buyer. This is now enabling trade-up buyers to enter the market."
 -- Moore & Company, Denver, reported unit sales volume up 16 percent and dollar volume up 17.5 percent. "Sales are up in both trade-up and entry levels. First-time buyers, which have been hotter than a pistol, pushed trade-up buyers along. It's the hottest market in Denver since 1978, which was really a banner year. We had a reasonably good '91, but nothing like '92. We'll blow by the '91 numbers in '92."
 -- Shannon & Luchs, Washington, reported a 12.5 percent decline in unit volume and a 15 percent drop in dollar volume, with the average sales price off 2.7 percent from a year ago. "However, some of our strongest offices were those with higher-priced listings ... we are seeing much more strength in the market for homes in the $300,000-plus range and major improvement in the move-up market."
 -- Edina Realty, Inc., Edina, Minn., reported a dip of less than 1 percent in the number of home sales, however, the dollar value was up 1.5 percent, reflecting an increase in the average selling price.
 -- ReMax Advantage, Las Vegas, reported both the volume of transactions and home values up in April compared to a year ago. "We are selling more new-home sales than resales now. Trade-up and relocation business are accounting for a lot of the increase lately."
 -- S.C. Tucker Co., Indianapolis, reported April closings up 36 percent and dollar volume up about 30 percent. "Business continues to be great, with trade-up purchases up strongly."
 -- Audubon Brokers Inc., New Orleans, reported a 25 to 35 percent decline in sales activity. "April of last year was just a real strong market, thus we had a tough time matching that activity this April. However, we've experienced a big surge in the last two months, with interest rates giving the extra push. There is plenty of pent-up demand, a good supply of homes on the market and affordable interest rates -- all factors helping first-time buyers, as well as mid-range and upscale buyers."
 -- Realty One, Cleveland, reported an 8 percent drop in unit sales. "Year-to-date activity, however, is up 10 percent from last year. We had a dynamic first quarter and we had a good year in 1991. I don't know how far it will go, but we have to believe it reflects more confidence in the economy."
 -- ReMax of Rancho Bernardo, San Diego, reported sales volume up 80 percent, with an average sales price of $199,600. "This rebound started about February. May sales should end up about the same as April. This trend likely will hold through the summer, unless there are massive layoffs in our local defense industry. The strength in the market began at the lower-price range, and this continues. Sales of homes priced over $500,000 remain very weak."
 -- Hunneman & Co./Coldwell Banker, Boston, reported an increase of more than 30 percent in home sales. "We are continuing to sell more homes in the lower end of our market."
 -- Crye-Leike Realtors, Memphis, Tenn., reported a 15 percent increase in sales, with year-to-date volume up 25 percent over last year. "The Memphis economy is steady, not volatile. This is not a market with lots of peaks and valleys. Interest rates remain the key, and both first-timers and move-ups are in the market. A number of the larger homes that have been on the market for more than a year are now starting to move."
 The National Association of Realtors, "The Voice for Real Estate," is the nation's largest trade association, representing nearly 750,000 members involved in all aspects of the real estate industry.
 -0- 5/18/92
 /CONTACT: Iverson Moore, 202-383-1290, Cheryl Spector, 202-383-1289, or Liz Duncan, 202-383-1043, all of the National Association of Realtors/ CO: National Association of Realtors ST: District of Columbia IN: SU: ECO

DC -- DC024 -- 1413 05/18/92 14:46 EDT
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Date:May 18, 1992

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