Marion Filley's closing comments: April 17

March showed us just how bad the winter was and its negative effect on the market which will probably be evident for at least another month. Unit sales dropped 40% (into single digits). Following suit, the median sale was down $45,000, but only by 6%. Average sales also tumbled over 13% or over $114,000. Inventory rose dramatically and on April 1st, stood at 140 single family houses — still below the norm for this time of year. Average prices continue to stay high. While lower than last month, they remain above April 1st of last year by $115,000.

Closing the books on the first quarter, we find that for the year-to-date, sales are down 13% from last year. Certainly weather contributed, but it is interesting to note this is the same level as 2011 and ahead of every other year from 2008 until 2013. The median sale is lagging as well, but by less than $15,000 or 2%. But the average sales price is up almost 8% (more than $64,000). This can be explained by the seven sales over a million in 2013 as compared with the 12 sales over a million year-to-date in 2014. However, total revenue is down 6%.

It is important that whatever toll the winter took is quickly reversed. We saw real promise in the recovery from 2010 to 2011, but the downturn in median and average in 2012 is cautionary. One disturbing  piece of news is that mortgage origination fell to its lowest level in 14 years for February (latest numbers available), while mortgage rates continue to remain very low. Some of this is explained by the fact that only 30% of loans in 2013 went to people with credit scores under 720. These national figures do not necessarily play a deciding role in individual markets, but the trends are important. With more inventory, better weather and a drop in unemployment we will hopefully see a run up in closings and serious buyers.