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Trying to buy or sell a house on the Coast? Here’s some very good news

Those who sold their homes in the three Coast counties in 2017 received an average of $12,000 more than if they sold in 2016, according to the Gulf Coast Association of Realtors. But that doesn’t mean it’s a sellers’ market, real estate professionals say.
Those who sold their homes in the three Coast counties in 2017 received an average of $12,000 more than if they sold in 2016, according to the Gulf Coast Association of Realtors. But that doesn’t mean it’s a sellers’ market, real estate professionals say. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

It was a good year to sell a home in South Mississippi in 2017 — the best in 10 years in fact —as the inventory of homes for sale fell and prices soared.

The average sales price in the six Coast counties rose by $12,800 last year to $156,500. That was the best since 2007.

The selling price was $3,500 higher for the three Coast counties of Hancock, Harrison and Jackson, where sellers received an average of $160,000 for their property.

It also was a good time to buy a home, said Joe Rogers, chief executive officer of the Gulf Coast Association of Realtors. Consumer confidence has more people feeling better about the future, he said, and interest rates remain low.

“I think we’re in a good place,” he said. “The challenge is the inventory.”

At the start of 2015, real estate brokers had 14 months of inventory, which Rogers said is how long it would take to sell all the homes listed. That dropped in half to 7 months in 2016 and was less than 6 months at the end of last year.

Being able to find a home for her customers hasn’t posed a problem, said Sandi Sawyer Dulaney, an agent with Sawyer Real Estate in Gulfport. “I’m still able to find what I need,” she said. “I do notice that the prices are creeping up.”

She’s not saying it’s a sellers’ market. “It’s not,” she said. It’s just that the Coast real estate market is getting to a place where sellers can afford to price their homes right, she said.

For years since the national recession, people have found themselves upside down on their homes, she said, owing more for their mortgage than their homes were worth. In 2011, the average price of a home in South Mississippi sunk to its lowest point of $116,733, or about $40,000 less than it is now.

Dulaney said when she would consult people considering selling their properties even as recently as 2-3 years ago, “Most of the time I was delivering just terrible news.” She advised some of them to rent their home until prices rose, she said.

Now she’s telling more sellers that prices have reached a level where they can recoup their investment and possibly even make money. “That’s a great feeling,” she said.

South Mississippi still has issues with flood insurance impacting home sales, but even that is easing the farther away South Mississippi gets from Hurricane Katrina, Dulaney said.

“The fewer properties on the market, the higher the sales price is going to go,” Rogers said.

Homes spent an average of 110 days on the market before a buyer was found in 2015. That dropped to 98 in 2016 and 87 last year. Meanwhile the average selling price across the Coast rose from $145,500 in 2015 to $156,500 in 2017, a 7.6 percent increase in 2 years.

Home sales for 6 lower counties

Real Estate

2017

2016

2015

Houses sold

5,373

4,882

4,220

Average price

$156,535

$143,726

$142,606

New listings

8,002

7,174

6,998

Source: Mississippi Gulf Coast Multiple Listing Service

Home prices for 3 Coast counties

Year

Annual

sales

Average list price

Average sales price

Average DOM*

Months inventory

2017

$817 million

$167,000

$160,324

87

5.6

2016

$727 million

$155,153

$148,420

98

7.3

2015

$637 million

$153,146

$145,491

110

10.0

*Days on market from listing to a sales contract.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Assn. of Realtors

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