Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Okla. Housing Market Stable Due to Tax Credit, First-Time Buyers

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Okla. Housing Market Stable Due to Tax Credit, First-Time Buyers

Article excerpt

While home sales continue to be sluggish elsewhere, in Oklahoma the housing market remains stable, thanks in part to first-time homebuyers and a federal tax credit.

July data from the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Association of Realtors shows sales of both new and existing homes trending upward.

Records indicate July closings in the metro area were up by 53 units over last year, an increase of a little more than 3 percent. There were 1,706 closed contracts for July 2009, compared to 1,653 closed contracts for July 2008.

Additionally, the OKCMAR reported total sales volume of $270.5 million for July 2009, an increase of $5.3 million over July 2008's figure of $265.2 million.

Those figures, OKCMAR officials said, are due to the area's low unemployment rate, strong quality of life and the fact that houses in the Sooner State are priced right.

"I think that most of our homes are appropriately priced," said Dawn Kennedy, chief executive officer of the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Association of Realtors. "We don't have a lot of inflation of home values."

Kennedy said prices are kept in check because of good planning, legislation and the work done by city and state lawmakers.

"You're seeing extremely good planning on the part of our local legislators," she said. "We are a very, very well planned and functioning city."

In other parts of the country, such as California, she said changes in law and new zoning ordinances were what forced home values up so high.

However, while the Oklahoma City area saw most of its numbers increase, in Tulsa, residential closings were slightly lower. According to the Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors, there were 1,140 residential closings for July 2009. That was 56 fewer than the July 2008 figure of 1,196.

The association also reported sales figures that were lower than last year's numbers. For July 2009, the GTAR reported total sales of $161.9 million, about $12 million less than the July 2008 amount of $173.9 million.

"We're very pleased because it says that people are still out there buying houses," said association president Harriett Dunham.

Dunham said home sales in the Tulsa area have remained strong with many homebuyers purchasing homes in the $90,000 to $150,000 range. …

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