Grand Valley home prices go up in 3Q

For the first time in more than two years, the median price of houses sold rose in the third quarter of 2010.

“It may be premature to declare a ‘bottom’ to the market, but this is the first hint that prices may be firming,” Bob Reece, president of Advanced Title Co., said in his third-quarter review of the Grand Valley real estate economy.

The increase to $195,500, up from $185,000 in the second quarter of the year, came against the backdrop of fewer sales over the same two periods: 602 in the third quarter, down from 752 in the second quarter.

The third-quarter sales also are down 22 percent from the 772 in the third quarter of 2009, which seemed to be tied to the end of federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers, Reece said in the newsletter.

Single-family home construction is slow, the newsletter said. The 84 permits pulled in the third quarter are 20 percent below the 106 pulled in the third quarter of 2009. For the first nine months of 2010, builders have pulled 277 permits, down 9 percent from the 302 during the same period a year previous.

In another sign that economic recovery remains a ways off, foreclosures remain high. Through September, there were 1,202 foreclosures, up 43 percent from the 841 filed through September 2009.

Through September, sales of all property types amounted to 1,896, or a drop of 9 percent from the 1,998 sales through the first nine months of 2009.

Given all the conflicting signals, it’s too early to draw any strong conclusions about the state of the Grand Valley economy, Reece said.

For instance, while it might seem as though dropping interest rates could explain the solidity of housing prices, it would be reasonable to expect that low interest rates would also feed more purchases, something that Reece noted didn’t happen.

The increase in the median home price “could be a blip,” he said. “Over the course of the next few quarters we’ll know for sure.”


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