Danedri Thompson
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The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported this week that sales of existing homes in July dropped to their lowest levels since the organization began keeping numbers, but the numbers paint a rosier picture in Johnson County.
Nationwide, a NAR report showed that sales of existing homes were down more than 27 percent last month. The Kansas Association of Realtors reported an even sharper drop. Home sales statewide fell 36 percent. But according to a report issued by the Kansas City Regional Association of Realtors (KCRAR), home sales in Johnson County ticked 5 percent higher in July.
“By national accounts the market is awful,” Suzie Townley, a Gardner real estate agent, said. “I think Johnson County is in better than average shape.”

A home for sale in Gardner is pictured. Home sales in Johnson County rose 5 percent in July, according to a report from the National Association of Realtors. Staff photo by Danedri Thompson

Townley said many areas of the country experiencing real estate busts right now also experienced real estate booms.
“Johnson County has not had to withstand what the east coast and west coast have had to withstand,” Townley said. “Of course, we didn’t have the huge boom either.”
Although numbers for the Kansas City area as a whole look pretty bad – homes sales were down metrowide by more than 37 percent, Townley said those numbers encompass a very broad area including Cass, Clay, Ray, Platte and Jackson Counties in Missouri and Johnson, Leavenworth, Miami, and Wyandotte Counties in Kansas.
In the Kansas City region, 1,639 homes were sold in July. That’s down from 2,516 in July 2009.
While Johnson County sales inched up in July 2010 compared to July 2009, that’s not the case for neighboring counties. In Miami County, the number of sales closed was down more than 8 percent in July; in Wyandotte, they were down more than 4 percent.
KCRAR officials said in a press release about July’s housing numbers that a dip in home sales was to be expected after a federal homebuyer tax credit expired.
“Home buyers who took advantage of the tax credit and were under contract by April 30 have until Sept. 30 to close on those purchases,” the press release reads. “Watch for fluctuations in the market until the fall and then watch for sales and prices to increase ever so slowly, but steadily.”
Nationwide, NAR estimates it would take approximately 12.5 months to sell all of the houses on the market today. Real estate professionals consider a six-month supply of homes to be a balanced market, and the Kansas City area isn’t too far off that mark. KCRAR estimates it would take a little more than eight months to sell all of the homes currently available in the metro.
And, Townley said another bright spot in Johnson County and the metro is that home values have remained fairly steady. The average sale price in the metro area inched up between July 2009 and July 2010. In July 2009, the average sale price for a home in the metro area was $160,209. In 2010, the average sale price inched higher to $163,488.
In Johnson County, the average sales price was $243,639 in July 2009. By July 2010, the average sales price in the county was $267,675.
Interest rates are also at historic lows at about 4.5 percent, Townley said.
“It is a good time for buyers. The inventory is good. There are short sales out there that with patience, a buyer can get a really pretty good deal,” she said. “We are not the east or the west coast, so you’re also not going to see the depreciation that those markets are experiencing.”
Townley said it goes to show all real estate is truly local.
“Gardner is still a great place to live as are Spring Hill and Edgerton,” she said. “They are very accessible in terms of highway access. Very convenient for job opportunities and good schools. And still have that small town feel that a lot of people are looking for.”