Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Home sales skid on N.Ky. losses

By Jeff McKinney jmckinney@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A double-digit drop in home buying in July in Northern Kentucky caused sales to remain flat for the Tristate last month, but sales in Southwest Ohio remained on a record-setting pace.

        The number of homes sold in Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky and southeastern Indiana were unchanged in July at 2,557 - identical to the previous July, local boards of Realtors reported Monday.

  Sales of existing homes and condominiums were up in Southwestern Ohio and Dearborn County, Ind. but down sharply in Northern Kentucky for July, compared with July 2001. The result: Regional home sales were flat. Home sales (closings):
  Southwest Ohio
  July 2002: 2,093
  July 2001: 2,032
  Average price
  July 2002: $168,264
  July 2001: $162,264
  Northern Kentucky
  July 2002: 422
  July 2001: 499
  Average price
  July 2002: $146,069
  July 2001: $135,943
  Southeast Indiana
  July 2002: 42
  July 2001: 26
  Average price
  July 2002: $145,401
  July 2001: $145,234
  Source: Boards of Realtors
        Although accounting for only roughly 15 percent of the area market, the decline mainly in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties largely threw off sales for the region.

        There were 422 single-family homes sold in Northern Kentucky last month, down 15.4 percent from 499 sold last July, according to the Northern Kentucky Association of Realtors.

        More people refinancing homes than buying could have sparked the sales decline in Northern Kentucky, said Jack Hoffman, president-elect of the Northern Kentucky Association of Realtors.

        Still, low mortgage rates fueled a 3 percent gain in July in Southwest Ohio, which makes up about 80 percent of the Tristate market. Sales for the four-county Ohio area remained on a record-setting pace for the first seven months of 2002, coming in at 12,978 and rising 2.7 percent from a year ago, according to the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors.

        “Consistent increases in home sales figures are a direct function of the lowest interest rates we've seen in years,” said Kathy Koops, president of the Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors.

        Home sales locally were lower than those nationally.

        Nationally, existing-home sales rose 0.6 percent in July, compared with July 2001, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.33 million, keeping the nation on pace for possibly another record year, according to the National Association of Realtors.

        In Southwest Ohio, home sales totaled 2,093 in July, up from 2,032 in July 2001. The average price rose 3.7 percent to $168,264.

        Sales last month in Southwest Ohio also bounced back from a small decline in June, which was the first monthly decrease since January.

        Low-mortgage rates continued to drive sales. The average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages was 6.62 percent in July in Southwest Ohio, down from an average 7.24 percent last July.

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