News & Updates // Select Settlement, Inc. • Erie, PA

Erie Homes Sales on the Rise

Posted on January 20th, 2016 at 12:38 PM
Erie Homes Sales on the Rise

This article was originally published by Pam Parker from the Erie Times News on January 20th, 2016.

 

ERIE, Pa. -- Ken and Marygail Johnson started house hunting more than a year ago, and they closed out 2015 by selling one house in the city and closing on another at 656 W. Seventh St. -- all on the same day.

"We had back-to-back closings," Marygail Johnson said.

The Johnsons' closings contributed to the 4,285 sales transactions recorded with the Erie County Courthouse in 2015. Those figures include commercial and residential transactions, said Stacey Santos, president of the Greater Erie Board of Realtors, who supplied figures that compared 2014 with 2015.

The 4,285 total represents a 5.3 percent increase over 2014's total of 4,070 transactions.

On the residential side, according to figures on the Greater Erie Board of Realtors website, 2,199 sales took place in 2015 compared with 2,069 in 2014 -- a 6.3 percent increase.

Home prices also increased in three of the four quarters of 2015, according to the Greater Erie Board of Realtors. The largest of those increases occurred in the second quarter, when the median sales price increased 3.5 percent to $125,000 over the second quarter of 2014.

However, median sales prices dropped in the fourth quarter by 8.1 percent to $111,230 compared with 2014.

Nationally, sales of single-family homes declined 4.6 percent from 2014, according to the National Association of Realtors. However, average sales prices were up 6.6 percent.

Marsha Marsh, of Marsha Marsh Real Estate, said four areas emerged as the most sought-after locations in the region.

The most popular was Millcreek Township south of West 26th Street.

The second most popular area was Harborcreek Township.

Millcreek east of Interstate 79 and Summit Township rounded out the neighborhoods potential home buyers are most interested in, she said.

The Johnsons, however, didn't pick any of those areas.

Instead, they settled on a spot in the city, in an area known as Garden Court.

Garden Court is a popular one-block neighborhood between Cherry and Poplar streets and West Sixth and Seventh streets where backyards connect in a parklike setting.

The Garden Court home wasn't the first choice of Ken Johnson, 38, and Marygail Johnson, 36.

"We had found another home ... but the deal fell through," Marygail Johnson said.

The Johnsons purchased their current four-bedroom home for $185,000, and it had been on the market for about five months. One of the most attractive features about the house was that it was in move-in condition.

Hardwood flooring, an updated kitchen and a well-kept interior were among the home's most attractive features. Outside, the former owners had cultivated gardens around the house and two-car garage that were featured in the Bay City Garden Club Walk in 2015.

"My husband is an artist, and we wanted more room. This home is perfect. It has a finished third floor that he turned into a studio," Marygail Johnson said.

She added that Garden Court's parklike setting was a bonus. "We all love that," she said, referring to her husband and their children, ages 12, 6 and 5.

The couple timed their purchase right -- they closed just before the Federal Reserve increased interest rates, which also caused a slight uptick in interest rates for mortgages.

Usually, an uptick in rates can have a cooling effect on the market.

But with rates still at historic lows -- 30-year mortgages can be had for less than 4 percent -- Santos said the uptick shouldn't deter buyers.

Of greater concern to real estate professionals is changing demographics.

Marsh said one major difference she has seen in the current market compared with previous years is that buyers are taking their time to check out the market, and they are often older than in past decades.

"There is no sense of urgency for a buyer to purchase," Marsh said. "They're not buying as young and not having children as young as previous generations."

In this way, again, Erie is following a national trend. Zillow issued a report in August that showed first-time homebuyers are often older and single. The study said first-time homebuyers often rented for six years before they purchased a home. The report added that homeowners of the 1970s rented an average of only 2.6 years before buying.

Read full article from goerie.com »

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