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Posted on Mon, Apr 11, 2011 : 6:48 p.m.

1st quarter Washtenaw County home sales data: Best of times, worst of times

By Paula Gardner

The new Washtenaw County housing data is out, giving us the first quarterly glimpse of sales trends for the Ann Arbor area so far in 2011.

The basics: March dollar volume for houses was flat over 2010, even as the unit count fell from 255 to 229. On the condo side, the dollar volume fell about $1.9 million (from $8.1 million), while the number of units sold dropped from 65 to 50.

The Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors, in its analysis of the numbers, says the sales numbers — when compared to 2010 — show a stronger spring market, since the previous year's data was "skewed" by the federal Homebuyers Tax Credit.

Just for fun, I just pulled the same monthly data for both 2007 — when the market slide turned dramatic — and 2001, which many of us might consider "the good old days" when demand constantly pressured supply in many communities.

So what do the 1Q 2011 numbers show so far, in comparison to the best of times and the worst of times in the local housing market?

A few observations:

• The listing pace in 2007 was horrifying, compared to the pace of sales. We're selling about as many houses and condos so far this year (720) as in 2007 (715). But the number of listings in 2007 (3,831) was more than three times that recorded this year (1,205). Those aren't all Pfizer homes — it's the start of the mortgage meltdown, too. In comparison, in 2001, there were 50 percent more listings than today.

• The number of March sales this year (279) more closely resembles 2007 (with 274), while the "healthy" market was only about 8 percent higher at 303.

• The dollar volume tells the story about value loss: This year's total sales on the comparable volume was $119.5 million, compared to $150.6 million in "bad" times and $154 million in 2001.

• And the pain for homeowners comes in the average listing price: $225,498 in 2001, climbing to $228,828 in 2007, then plummeting to $185,088 today.

Meanwhile, another number jumped out at me from the March sales data: With 47 homes sold in Ann Arbor, the average sales price was $324,571 — the only place in Washtenaw County at more than $300,000, and $55,196 more than 2010. That's encouraging for anyone who considers the high-end market a sign of economic rebound — though the numbers don't tell us how much the values of those high-end homes have changed since 2001 or 2007.

The AAABOR lists local home sales data back to 1999 in case you'd like to compare other years to today's numbers.

And here is a pdf version of the year-to-date sales data.

Paula Gardner is Business News Director of Contact her at 734-623-2586 or by email. Sign up for the weekly Business Review newsletter, distributed every Thursday, here.


Macabre Sunset

Tue, Apr 12, 2011 : 6:13 p.m.

The downward pressure on home prices will continue once banks start foreclosing on properties in default again. And the supply will keep increasing as the government only helps people who have already walked away from their mortgages. As our government continues to print money without responsibility, inflation is inevitable, and mortgage rates will rise, further tightening the supply of new loans. I have no idea where the optimism comes from.


Tue, Apr 12, 2011 : 1:16 p.m.

@towny, I responded to your comment about Realtors being crooks on my blog. It was too long to address here.

Top Cat

Tue, Apr 12, 2011 : 1:07 p.m.

A meaningful stat might be how many homes in Washtenaw County are currently vacant.


Tue, Apr 12, 2011 : 6 a.m.

All the optimism in the world will not make this mess go away. Wishing the economy and housing market better is not going to work. This state has not hit rock bottom yet. Unfortunately, we are not going upward yet. To many foreclosures still happening. Open your eyes and look around. The sky has fallen whether realtors will admit it or not. Got to love crooks or I mean realtors.


Tue, Apr 12, 2011 : 12:19 p.m.

Yes, it was the realtors who caused this mess - I forgot.

say it plain

Tue, Apr 12, 2011 : 2:04 a.m.

Goodness, does the attempt at cheerleading for real-estate-beat 'stories' ever ever end?! Yes, I will take the 'rebound' of higher-end homes in Ann Arbor, but not the rest of the area, as a 'sign' lol, and also someone might have tea leaves, wait, yes, the tea leaves would be a more useful 'sign' lol, than context-less numbers 'jumping out' at the beat-walkers in this domain! And all those negative indicators, those 'worst of times' signs, must indeed mean that the,yes, the worst *must* be behind us, right? right? right! It would be comical if it weren't indicative of how we got into the mess in the first place...