Longview-area home sales jumped nearly 8 percent in January from a year ago, but were well off the monthly pace seen for most of the past year, according to new data from the Longview Area Association of Realtors.
The average sale price also was up slightly, to $172,186 this January from $171,495 a year ago.
The 193 sales closed during January in the association’s 10-county market were up from 179 during the same month a year ago. That January was the slowest month of last year, which saw monthly average sales hit 269 for the 12-month period.
Weather may have taken a bite out of closed deals this January, but it's also a month that often sees sales at a low ebb after the holiday season.
“Weather does make a difference in our business,” said Suzanne Cook, a broker for 21 years and owner of Suzanne Cook & Co. “When it is raining, people don’t want to look at houses, not if they don’t have to.”
Jeff Ramsey, a broker for six years and owner of Ramsey Realty Group, said overall sales trends are positive.
“New construction homes are increasing, I guess, in sales,” Ramsey said. “Right now, we are in a great position, because fewer homes are in the market.”
Ramsey’s observation is correct, at least within Longview ZIP codes. Active listings numbered 399 in January, down 12.3 percent from 455 a year ago.
Cook concurred, saying, “What I have seen for the first two months of the year is, I am not seeing as many listings come on the market.”
She said she expects sales to improve as temperatures rise.
“I think people are interested,” Cook said. “I think if it warms up a bit, we will have more buyers. I am working on a listing right now where people are getting ready” to sell.
While home sales increased across the Realtors’ territory in January, that wasn’t the case within Longview ZIP codes. Sales were flat in January 2019 and 2018 at 48 closed sales, according to data from the association’s Multiple Listing Service. The median sale price also dropped by 5.6 percent from $161,250 to $152,300 within the city.
Homes from $100,000 to $199,999 accounted for 64.5 percent of all sales in January within Longview ZIP codes, followed by 15.6 percent below $100,000 and 13.3 percent for prices from $200,000 to $299,999.
Homes within Longview ZIP codes spent 132 days in the market in January, down from 158 a year ago.
Across the larger Longview region, homes spent an average of 122 days on the market in January, up one day from a year ago.
Sales through the association’s Multiple Listing Service typically represent about 85 percent of total sales in the market. It does not capture sales by owners, for example, or some sales of new construction by builders.
Also within the city of Longview, builders took out three permits for construction of new single-family homes in January. That was down from four a year ago and the same as in December, according to the city’s Development Services Department.
The average permit value declined about 33 percent to $154,062 from $221,250 in January 2018.
The city in January issued two permits to JVD General Contractors for homes at 2506 and 2504 Lilly St. through the South Longview Incentive Program and one permit to Longview Alpha Construction Co. LLC for a house at 3889 Harley Ridge Road. The city waives fees for SLIP homes with the intent of encouraging the building of more affordable homes.
The same seasonal factors that tamp down sales could be responsible for modest numbers of home starts in January.
That was a view expressed by Mike Alston, a partner with Longview’s East Texas Homes LLC, which applied Jan. 18 to build a 10-room house at 204 Tupelo Drive.
Alston said he does not seek permits until he is ready to begin dirt work.
“We’ve got four new homes that are signed up and sealed and ready to go, but the permit requests have not been filed yet,” he said.
Like Alston, Anwar Khalifa, owner and general manager of Pyramid Homes of Tyler, applied for a permit in January. He awaits the issuance of a permit for a 15-room house at 2404 Sago Court.
“I am really looking to do a lot more (home building) this year,” Khalifa said. “I’ve got a little different marketing approach. I’ve got a guy who is really tweaking our internet ... so that anybody who is looking to build or buy a new home will know about us.”
The permit for the Sago Court house is valued at $190,000, but Khalifa said he expects to list it for $379,000.
As with all building permit values, the listed value is the construction cost and does not take into account other factors that go into the sale price of a home, including land, the builder’s profit and real estate agent or broker’s commission.