Town Talk | In a sign of how hot local real estate market is, 45% of all homes sold above their asking price in March | News, Sports, Jobs

Adelicia Caree

photo by: Shutterstock Sometimes when I’m at an auction and find an item I really must have, I let my right hand bid against my left hand just to double my chances. Lawrence’s real estate market is taking on that type of feel. You’d better have […]

photo by: Shutterstock

Sometimes when I’m at an auction and find an item I really must have, I let my right hand bid against my left hand just to double my chances. Lawrence’s real estate market is taking on that type of feel. You’d better have both bidding fingers ablazin’, and even that might not be enough.

Lawrence home sales fell significantly in March, but average selling prices took a big jump up, according to the latest numbers from the Lawrence Board of Realtors. The decline in the number of homes sold was the largest in at least a year, and the president of the local Realtors association has a thought on what is slowing the market down: frustration with the word ‘no.’

“One of our biggest challenges is keeping buyers motivated when they keep making offers that are not accepted,” John Huntington Jr., president of the Lawrence Board of Realtors, said in the group’s monthly report.

Huntington said it “seems that nearly every listing has more than one offer.” The group doesn’t have specific statistics on how many sales come with multiple offers, but here is one eye-catching number: Last year 19% of all homes sold in March sold above their listed asking price. This March, 45% of all homes sold above their asking price.

A person almost needs a third hand.

Here are some of the key takeaways from this month’s report:

• Lawrence home sales in March totaled 77, down from 105 in March 2020. That’s a decline of about 27%. It marks the second month in a row home sales have declined in Lawrence. Lawrence hasn’t had two down months in a row since May and June of 2020. The 27% decline in March, though, is much steeper than either of those months. It is the largest percentage drop in at least 15 months.

• The median selling price in March was $275,000, up 22% from the $225,000 median in March 2020.

• One month averages, however, can be pretty volatile. The median selling price year-to-date isn’t up as much, but still is growing at an above-average rate. Through March, the median selling price of Lawrence homes was $242,500, up 7.2% from a year ago.

• Through March, Lawrence is definitely on pace to see fewer home sales this year. Total sales are down 11.5% to 200 sales. At this point last year, the market was booming in all regards, with home sales up nearly 30% from 2019.

• Sales of newly constructed homes were up in March, but not in any great numbers. Home construction over the last few months hasn’t been significant enough to make a major dent in Lawrence’s tight inventory of homes for sale. In March, 13 newly constructed homes sold, up from 10 a year earlier. Year-to-date, sales of newly constructed homes actually are down slightly: 27 versus 29. Think of that for a moment. In a market starved for available homes, and with interest rates still at historic lows, Lawrence hasn’t seen a boom in new housing but rather has seen a slight decline.

• The median selling price for new homes, however, is way up. Through March, the median selling price is $379,900, a nearly 20% increase from a year ago.

• In March, the median number of days a home sat on the market before selling was four. That’s also the median for the first three months of the year. Last year at this time, the number was 24 days.

A market moving that fast does create some problems, Huntington said.

“The other challenge is getting a seller to put their home on the market, hoping they can can find their new home so that they don’t have to move more than once,” he said. “A year ago, 12.4% of homes that were sold were on the market six days or less. This year it was 63%.”

The math on finding a new home quickly can get pretty tough in today’s market. In March, there were only 72 homes on the market, compared with 217 a year ago. And depending on what price range you are looking in, the task can be particularly tough. As an example, in March there were nearly as many homes listed for $1 million or more as there were listed for $150,000 to $199,999. There were four $1 million plus homes on the market, while there were only five homes in the $150,000 to $199,999 range.

Numbers like those are pointed to by local real estate professionals who warn Lawrence is facing a home shortage of historic proportions. As we reported, the Board of Realtors last month sent a letter to city commissioners saying the shortage is absolutely impacting the city’s goal of providing affordable housing and that the community needs to take action now because increasing the supply of housing in a community takes time.

City commissioners and members of the real estate community are scheduled to have a study session on the issue on May 18.

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