October home sales down, prices increase at slower pace

Don Fenley 

October home sales were down but not enough to push the market’s year-to-date performance off its double-digit growth track. 

There were 807 closings last month. That’s 43 fewer than September and 30 fewer than October last year. So far this year, 7,911 single-family and condo sales have closed. That’s 877 more than the first 10 months of last year, according to the Northeast Tennessee Association of REALTORS® (NETAR) Home Sales Report. 

October’s $240,732 average sales price was down $9,455 from September. It is also less than it was in August. However, compared to this time last year, it’s a homeowner’s dream. The average is up $33,724.  

“This is what a traditional fall market looks like,” NETAR President Kristi Bailey said.  “The last two month’s market performance is a familiar pattern.  It typically slows down with the arrival of fall and winter, then picks up as spring approaches in the new year. What’s not typical is some market indicators haven’t synced up. Things are all over the place. That’s an anomaly of the pandemic.” 

For example, the number of new contracts is declining at a snail’s pace, while the time a home spends on the market before selling is increasing at an equally slow pace. Both are demand indicators. New contracts are a forward-looking indicator of what closings will look like for the next six weeks to two months. And the longer a home spends on the market before selling signals softer consumer demand. 

Currently, the region has 1.7 months of inventory. That has improved, but only slightly, since July. Balanced market conditions are typically defined as a five-to-six-month inventory. “Our area hasn’t seen that balance for almost two years,” Bailey said. 

The housing market is still moving forward, just at a slower pace, she added. “That normalization is expected to continue into next year.” 

NETAR is the voice for real estate in Northeast Tennessee. It is the largest trade association in the Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia region, representing over 1,800+ members and 100+ business partners involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. Weekly market reports and information for both consumers and members are available on the NETAR website at https://netar.us