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Area housing market stays level

BY LAUREN P. DUNCANlduncan@paducahsun.com

The national housing market has not fully recovered from the 2007-2009 crash, but Paducah-area real estate agents say the local market is stable.

Over the past year, national averages have shown homes are selling at a similar rate as a year ago. The median time on market for all homes was 48 days in April, according to information from the National Association of Realtors. In April 2013 it reported the median time was 43 days.

A comparison of 2012 and 2013 housing statistics from the Kentucky Association of Realtors shows the Paducah Board of Realtors sold 646 homes in 2013, which was a slight uptick from the 624 sold in 2012. The median home sale price was $128,975, which was also up from 2012's median price-range of $126,250. Other regions of Kentucky saw drops in sales, or even an increase in home sales but at lower values. The Murray-Calloway Board of Realtors, for example, reported a 19 percent increase in homes sold, but no change in median price. 

The little change in both housing sales and prices in the Paducah-area market may vary from some other Kentucky regions, but it falls in line with state averages of an overall stagnant market. Information from Freddie Mac states the March 2013-March 2014 change in Kentucky home values was a 1 percent increase, which was the lowest in comparison to all of Kentucky's border states, except West Virginia, which also showed a 1 percent increase. 

Randy Bridges, president of the Paducah Board of Realtors and Realtor with Remax Realty Group of Paducah, said he'd describe the local market as "holding its own."

"The last few years have been in decline and recently there's been a slight upturn," he said.

Bridges attributed a stable local economy to the lack in drastic changes in the Paducah-area home buying market. Layoffs such as those that came from USEC are discouraging, but he is optimistic home sales can increase.

"We're fortunate, western Kentucky, our cost of living is lower then national levels, interest rates are at all-time lows ... the biggest thing is, people get scared and don't know what to do, and, once they realize the sky is not falling, they'll get back into the market."

One corner of the market Bridges said has struggled lately is vacation or "second" homes, because he said people with disposable income looking at buying second homes have curtailed their spending.

Ben Sirk of Sirk and Company Commercial and Residential Real Estate Services based out of Paducah and Lexington likewise said the local market is stable although it could be better. He said recently sales have been unpredictable, as homes that he would expect to be tough sales are coming easier, and properties he'd expect to be off the market in no time aren't selling.

"The most notable thing to me is, there's no real rhyme or reason to the market right now," he said. "It's just kind of a wacky time." 

Sirk pointed out home loans are very affordable, but he thinks people are timid to invest in western Kentucky because of cuts at companies such as USEC.

"People are just kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop. We're not sure what's going to happen with our economy or if it's safe to invest in the area," he said.

He said thus far this year, local property sales are looking like they'll surpass last year's numbers.

While home sales are steady, he said both the local and national commercial and industrial markets are taking a hit, which Sirk said could be a result of several reasons, but primarily, businesses aren't expanding.

"We've got nowhere to go but up," he said. "It's just taking some time to get there."

Contact Lauren Duncan, Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8692 or follow @laurenpduncan on Twitter.

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