The Central Peninsula’s housing market saw a slight improvement during 2012, following the previous year’s trends. The number of units sold and average sales price of residential homes both increased.
Anna Johns, executive director of Kenai Peninsula Association of Realtors, attributes the continued growth to new businesses coming to the area as well as oil and natural gas exploration.
“Overall, the economy is picking up around here and so are the sales of homes,” Johns said.
In 2012, there were 375 residential properties sold in the Central Peninsula area at an average sales price of $212,291, according to numbers provided by Johns. The affiliates of the association sell homes in the Kenai and Soldotna area.
The average price of Central Peninsula homes have been consistently lower than prices found elsewhere throughout the entire Kenai Peninsula, Johns said.
In 2011, there were fewer homes sold, 347, and the average sale price was significantly less at $200,742. This year marks the second consecutive year the sales prices increased by more than $10,000 — in 2010, the average sales price was $191,158.
The jump in prices follows a three-year dip. The average sales price of a home in 2008 was $199,568.
“The numbers clearly show we had a slump, but now we’re coming back,” she said.
It’s a very slow appreciation, Johns added, referring to the general trend of the housing market on the Central Peninsula. Realtors define appreciation as the increase in the average sales price a certain economy can sustain. Markets with multiple year increases in the double-digit range are unstable. The local appreciation value once again remained in the 5 to 6 percent range in 2012, however.
Foreclosures and underwater homes — those whose owners owe more than their homes are worth — edged upwards as well. Last year, the area had 31 foreclosed properties. In 2011, there were 27 foreclosed properties.
But the above numbers can be misleading, Johns said.
“It’s possible that some of the homes listed as foreclosed for 2012 are carry-overs from 2011,” she said. “It’s not like there’s 31 new foreclosures, because some of the previous year’s (homes) didn’t sell.”
Also in 2012, affiliates of the association made a total of six “short sales,” deals in which the bank agrees to less than the amount owed. The seller, the bank and the buyer are all involved in the deal, Johns said. In 2011, there were 11 short sales.
Short sales are homes that are underwater, and the owner wants to sell but the market can’t produce the amount they owe, she said. They can take upwards of six months to complete.
Foreclosures are easier to sell. All the legal work is out of the way. It’s unclear as to why some foreclosed homes stay on the market longer than others.
Johns said she is optimistic about the future of the Central Peninsula’s real estate market.
“The local economy is now moving upward,” she said. “The prices (of homes) are edging up, and I think it’s going to be a good year for 2013.”