Through Aug. 15, 876 homes were sold in Bartow. Auction sales came to 38, bank sales came to 272 and the remaining 566 sales were all qualified. The average sale price for these transactions totals $119,068.84. The July statewide average sale price is higher, at $134,900 according to RealtyTrac, a national source for housing data. RealtyTrac also reports the national average sale price is up 6 percent from last year at $174,000.
In Bartow the cheapest transaction was for an Acworth residence on Summer Drive. Sold at auction, it went for $3,000. The most expensive transaction thus far is a bank sale on Timberwood Road in White, which totals $815,000 for 382.6 acres of land.
In terms of monthly sales, 2013 started off slow for Bartow, with January, February and March sales bouncing between 105, 100 and 105, respectively. April, however, saw a jump to 140 with May coming in at 142 sales. May was the peak for 2013 so far, as June slid to 118 and July recovered only to 125 sales. August recorded 41 sales as of Aug. 15, the most recent data available from the county tax assessor.
Housing sales for 2012 over the same period were not available as of press time. The Daily Tribune News plans to examine 2012 home sales in a later edition.
While the housing numbers in Bartow have decreased in the last two months, Travis Popham of Professional Realty Group believes decreasing inventory is the cause rather than mortgage rates inching up.
“I think our biggest hurdle right now is inventory, lack of inventory, and we’re still fighting appraisal issues,” he said.
Popham said many of the foreclosed homes once on the market have been sold, leaving realtors with a reduced inventory and reduced property appraisals. He said appraisals have not yet caught up with the increase in housing prices due to the foreclosed homes.
“I think, probably from my standpoint, I think the banks came in here and flooded the market with these foreclosures, and that’s what killed the value,” Popham said. “Now I think they’re still foreclosing on them, but they’re not putting them on the market as fast as they were. I think they’re kind of bleeding them into the market to hopefully get prices to come back up. I think there are still foreclosures out there, but I think they’re holding onto them a little bit and that’s what’s hurting our inventory.”
Dan Clark of Asher Realty also noted the lack of available homes compared to previous years.
“Right now there’s about 300, a little less than 400, homes that are on the market in Bartow County listed through our multi-list service. ... That’s about half of what it was a few years ago, probably,” he said.
Clark also believed the foreclosed homes were mostly out of the market. He added there are approximately 132 homes pending for sale in the county, which puts the total number of homes up for sale at roughly 500.
In light of the reduced inventory, Popham believed anyone who held out on selling their home should consider putting it on the market now.
“Those people that have maybe rode the fence about possibly putting their house on the market, now may be the time to do it with inventory low. It may be a good time to get back into the market,” he said.
Clark, in turn, believes now is still a good time for buyers to get into the market. Mortgage rates have slowly increased over the previous weeks, reaching 4.62 percent for a 30-year fixed mortgage and 3.66 percent for a 15-year fixed mortgage as of Aug. 28, according to Bankrate.com. So although buyers will miss out on the low rates from earlier in the year, Clark thought they may be lower than future rates.
“People don’t realize what the lower interest rate actually does for them,” he said. “Sometimes it’s not even the price of the house, it’s the rate of interest you pay on the loan that dictates what the actual cost is, and it’s been so low many of the people who should have taken advantage of it haven’t. ...
“So the real advantage for people to buy, and they really need to be looking to find something that would meet their needs, is interest rates while they’re still low. When the economy turns around the interest rate will go back up, and it slowly has done that over the last few months.”