COLUMBIA — October was a good month for the housing market in Columbia, and 2012 has already surpassed last year's home sales total.
According to the Columbia Board of Realtors, 117 housing units were sold last month. That's the best showing for the market in five years.
"This has been one of the best months and has been a record month, as sales go in the market," said Kim Coleman, president of the Columbia Board of Realtors.
Home sales reached 1,629 from January to October of this year. This marks the first time in six years that home sales 10 months into the year have already exceeded the previous year's sales.
"It has been a better year," said Gary Meyer, House of Brokers real estate agent. "Overall, we have surpassed our 2011 unit production already."
The 2012 totals through October show an increase of more than 100 units sold compared to 1,514 in 2011. There were 1,592 units sold in 2010.
Coleman has seen a change in attitude.
"There is a lot more consumer confidence; people are more confident today than they were a year ago," she said.
As housing sales increase, the problem becomes finding the right property for would-be buyers. Coleman said fewer existing homes are on the market. While real estate agents used to show 40 to 50 homes to potential buyers, now they're often limited to 10to 20 homes.
Cold, snowy weather and increasing sales prices in early 2011 were partly to blame for lower sales last year, according to the news release from the Board of Realtors. In addition, it seemed as though buyers were waiting to purchase a home until after the Columbia Public Schools settled the school boundary reorganization, the release said.
This year, warm weather and low interest rates — about 3 percent on a 30-year mortgage — have helped reverse that trend, Coleman said.
"Columbia also has low unemployment and is experiencing growth, and all of those factors contribute," Meyer said.
It's not just the local market. Real estate agents said they are seeing hopeful signs nationally as well.
"Recovery of the housing market is here, and it is hopefully here to stay," Coleman said.
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