This article originally appeared in the Chattanooga Times Free Press. You can find it here.
It's shaping up to be a solid year for the housing market, as home sales and new housing starts rose across the board in September.
Sales of existing homes in September rose 19 percent over the year to 615 homes sold across the Chattanooga area, as homeowners rushed to put nearly 1,000 new homes on the market during the period, according to the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors.
Home starts year to date are up 12.4 percent to 1,178, including 760 new homes started in Hamilton County and 224 in Bradley County so far this year, according to research firm The Market Edge.
But though unit sales are promising, the recovery has yet to hit the high end of the market. Big homes, defined as those with more than 4,000 square feet or costing more than $400,000, are actually lagging 2012's numbers, with only 30 permits for large homes secured so far this year.
Builders aren't the only ones feeling the squeeze. Realtors say the median sales price in the Chattanooga area squeaked down 1.7 percent to $137,000. But buyers seemed to like the lower prices, as the number of days a home stood on the market decreased
2.5 percent to an average of 119 days, and the months of housing inventory decreased 6.3 percent to nine months, or about 5,173 homes for sale.
Mark Blazek, president of the Realtors association, said the combination of new home sales and buyers looking to downsize are driving the home sales surge.
"Some baby boomers are ready to look for less space, nudging Junior out of the basement," Blazek said. "The pizza boxes and late-night video games get old, plus there's a fresh crop of buyers looking for a bigger space to raise their own little darlings."