September housing market takes a breather

The September housing market took another step toward a traditional seasonal pattern in NE Tenn. and SW Va. Monthly home sales and prices declined from August while the average price was substantially higher than last year.  

“The takeaway is the market is taking a breather. It’s growing, but the growth rate is slowing from last year’s torrid pace,” said Kristi Bailey, President of the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors (NETAR). “This is a typical market transition landscape. Inventory is beginning to increase as some buyers are backing away from the sizzle. That presents opportunities for buyers who have felt stymied by the competitive spring and summer market conditions,” she added. 

September’s average sales price was $250,187. That’s 15.7 percent ($33,866) better than last year. It was down $6,960 (-2.7 percent) from August.  The median sales price – the middle of the market – was $205,000, up 14.5 percent ($26,000) from last year. It was down $5,000 (-2.8 percent) from August.  

There were 850 closings in September, down 11.7 percent from last year and 85 fewer than during August. That aligns with seasonal patterns for four of the five past years. The exception was last year when the prime buying and selling season lasted the entire summer and fall seasons.  

Signs that market conditions are moderating include: 

  • The time on market before closing has inched up from 47 days in May to 50 days in September. The longer homes stay on the market is a primary demand indicator. If it increases, demand is softer. If it declines, demand is rising. 
  • New listings have outnumbered new contract acceptances for the past four months. That allows a slow, steady increase in active inventory.  
  • Since April, inventory has increased from a 1.3-month supply to a 1.7-month supply in September. “Balanced market conditions is five to six months of inventory, so we’re still a way from that benchmark,” Bailey said. Most experts think the local market will return to balanced conditions late next year or by 2023.