Clovis home sales down

Sharna Johnson

Home sales in Clovis dropped about 28 percent in 2010 but home values remained steady, even inching up a little — both indicators the area is faring better than other communities nationwide, local real estate agents say.

Clovis mayor and Realtor Gayla Brumfield said despite the decrease, the real estate community is pleased with how Clovis has done and expects this to be a solid year.

“I think it’s going to be a good solid year. In our opinion it was more just a flat year, but we believe it will be a better year,” she said. “Things are already are starting to pick up.”

Realtor Kathy Corn said the drop in sales is relatively small, especially in light of national housing market woes.

With 1,170 homes sold in 2009, the decrease accounted for 329 less last year, with 2010 closing on 841 sales.

But home values in the area rose about 2 percent, she said, an indicator that the local market is still stable.

“Even though the numbers are down it hasn’t affected values,” she said, explaining she feels the news is still good.

“Clovis is very fortunate because we have not experienced the economic conditions that a lot of other areas of the country have, as long as we don’t experience people moving out, I think we’ll be fine.”

Part of the reason for the drop in sales is probably tied to the conclusion of tax incentive programs for first-time home buyers, which Corn said ended in August 2010.

“The tax incentive was a boost last year and so we saw a greater number of sales,” she said, and people concerned about the national housing news have also stayed in their existing homes instead of upgrading like they might have in years past.

“I think people are a little leery because they hear the national news,” she said.

And fewer people are qualifying for mortgages with lenders tightening the purse strings.

“A lot of people that were able to buy before last year, they’re not able now,” she said. “(Mortgage) lending was unbelievable, just about anyone could buy a home.”

Other small factors could be influencing sales as well, she said, such as increased taxes that a seller will feel when they enter into a new mortgage, buyers that took the tax credits are virtually locked into their homes for three years or have to repay it if they sell, and the new personnel at Cannon Air Force Base want to rent.

“For every one person that’s interested in buying, we probably get 10 that would like to lease or rent,” she said.

Cannon is a driving force in local real estate, Brumfield said.

In 2009, she said there was a spike in troops assigned to Cannon that also bolstered the housing market. But personnel growth, while still ongoing, came in smaller numbers in 2010.

Of home sales that occurred, the majority were existing homes, partly because they are generally more affordable than new construction, Corn said.

Corn said her office, which has 10 full-time realtors, fared a little better than the community as a whole, decreasing from $10.8 million in sales to $10.6 million, which she described as “unnoticeable.”

Brumfield said several new housing projects and initiatives in the community are expected to offset rental demands.