This article was originally published on timesfreepress.com.
See you in church on Sunday — and then later at open houses of homes for sale. That’s a thing here in Chattanooga, a real estate agent says.
“In Chattanooga, open houses are almost always Sunday afternoon from 2 to 4,” said Daniel Staub, an agent with Todd Henon Properties at Keller Williams Realty. “It’s a cultural thing. People get out of church, and then they’ll go to four or five open houses.”
If open houses are your thing, then this weekend you’ve got two days of them, today and Sunday, as the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors holds its annual Open House Weekend with close to 300 homes to view.
Realtors are opening houses as the busiest home buying time of the year approaches in what should be a record year for housing sales in Chattanooga.
Chattanooga Realtors achieved record sales in 2015 and started 2016 with a further 9.5 percent gain in the first quarter, suggesting this should be another boon year for home sales.
Employment is high, wages are going up and businesses are hiring, the association said in a March market analysis. High demand, especially from first-time homebuyers, has driven down the inventory of homes for sale.
“The market’s been great, and we’re lower on inventory than we’d wish,” said Nathan Walldorf, president of the Realtors’ association. “That helps sellers, honestly; it helps them get their home sold more quickly.”
Pending sales were up in March about 23 percent to 991 homes, according to the Realtor’s association, while inventory levels shrank 19 percent to 3,599 units.
The median sales price for housing was up 1.4 percent in March to $147,000, the association says, while the average days on market was down about 28 percent to 73 days.
Houses on market ‘less than 24 hours’
The right kind of home in the right neighborhood at the right price sells faster than that, Staub said.
“Buyers who want something that’s move-in ready are having a hard time finding it before it flies off the shelves,” he said. “You’ve got a really hot seller’s market, which leads to houses sometimes being on the market for less than 24 hours. The most recent house I got under contract, it was an East Ridge bungalow, and it was under contract in 48 hours.”
“Typically, first-time homebuyers want to buy a home that is aesthetically pleasing, that is move-in ready, that is clean, that preferably is updated. And most of the time, they’re going to be buying between $100,000 and $200,000,” Staub said. “Red Bank is extremely hot, Highland Park is extremely hot, Signal Mountain is extremely hot. Obviously Ooltewah.”
Walldorf said there’s strong demand for homes up to about twice the median price.
“I’d expand that price range up to $300,000, or so,” he said.
‘Great time to sell’
With the increased demand and lower inventory, the Realtor’s association is concerned that a lack of homes for sale might stymie sales.
“Now really is a great time to put your home on the market,” Walldorf said. “Inventory levels could get to a place where it actually hurts the market. We kind of do need people who are thinking about selling now is the time to do it.”
Even in the digital era, there’s a place for open houses, he said.
“Some people just love to see what’s out there,” Walldorf said. “I’ll have a couple houses open. We just love to see people come out.”