Every month I run some preliminary sales numbers in the middle of the month to see how things are shaping up. This month (June) was a real surprise. While sales numbers continue well below 2007 levels, the average and median sales prices are moving up. Looking at preliminary 3 month data (from Apr. 1), the median sales price has climbed to $165,925 (up from $150,000 last month) and the average climbed back over $200,000, to $209,481. If I look just at the 24 single family sales that have closed since June 1, the numbers are even more striking — the median for those 24 sales is $238,750, while the average is $240,139.
I pulled all the sales to see what's selling. Almost all would be categorized more as "second home" sales, with quite a few "better" properties in the mix. I know most of the houses in the sold list, and the characteristics shared by many of them is that they have 1) very attractive or unique settings and 2) were overall very good values for what they offered.
This tends to support what I've been seeing in the last month. I haven't been seeing a lot of lower end bargain hunters, but rather quite a few mid range city buyers looking for great properties at a good value price. I've heard from more than one buyer recently that they think this could be a good time to buy, and in many cases they may be right. There have been some very good deals struck on some very attractive properties. The mid range I'm talking about is $250,000 to $400,000 for non-lakefront homes, and under $500,000 for lakefront houses. Above those ranges, interest still seems very thin.
What's notable is what I'm not seeing in the sales mix. There are 3 general segments in the real estate market here — a "local" primary home market that centers around $150,000 ranch houses or $200,000 split levels, a "new" second home market that gravitates to country properties (often above $200,000) and a "traditional" second home market that is more budget focussed, looking at coop bungalows or small getaways at Hunter Lake, Mohican Lake or Smallwood, often in the $100's range. In looking over the sales, I'm not seeing much that would fit the local primary home or more budget getaway categories. Fewer sales in those lower price ranges as part of the overall mix will have the effect of pushing up the median and average.
A week ago I was listening to Barbara Corcoran, the real estate guru on the Today Show, giving some tips about getting your house sold. Her number one tip was to cut your asking price by 15% to move it into a lower price category, where it may be perceived as the best house and best value in that price range, rather than lag as just another also-ran house in a higher category. While her 15% number is a little generic, and doesn't apply across the board, her advice about making your house the best in a price range is sound. I'm seeing that strategy work here a lot. In the mid range of the second home market, the houses that are selling are those that are priced to stand out as great values in their price segment.