Mirroring national trends, Licking County home sales are down 16 percent despite the presence of 28 percent more homes on the market during 2006, statistics show.
The abundance of homes to choose from made it easier for home buyers like Stephanie Smith to find a place to live.
"I bought this past March after looking for two-and-a-half months," said Smith, 40, of Newark, who looked at 10 to 15 homes before making her choice. "There were a lot out there when I was looking. It seems like there's a lot more now, and I see a lot of the same houses on the market."
Still, some local Realtors contend their sales are up this year.
"Certain markets of Licking County are slower than others, and with the number of homes on the market it has become somewhat of a buyer's market," said Patrick D. Guanciale, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker King Thompson.
Since January, 1,798 homes have been actively on the market, compared to 1,296 on the market from January to August last year, said Don Ellington, a Realtor with the Pickenpaugh Team for ReMax Excellence.
In addition, 928 Licking County homes have sold, compared to 1,106 homes sold in the same time period in 2005.
Nationwide, existing home sales have fallen 7.5 percent in the April-June quarter, down from a record rate of home sales in the spring of 2005, the National Association of Realtors reported.
The slowdown is occurring after a lengthy boom in which sales of both new and existing homes set records for five straight years as buyers flocked into the market, lured by the lowest mortgage rates in more than four decades.
But mortgage rates have been climbing for most of this year, reflecting a two-year campaign by the Federal Reserve to push interest rates higher as a way of slowing the economy and keeping inflation under control.
The Fed last week refrained from raising rates for an 18th time, spurring hope the rate hikes will end before they do more damage to interest-rate sensitive sectors of the economy.
While national statistics show a slowing market, local Realtors say Licking County doesn't fit the trend.
"During the past 35 years of selling real estate, I do not think Licking County has ever had the full effect the national statistics encounter," Guanciale said.
"You read things on the news about the bubble bursting, but I think that's in Florida, Arizona, California," Ellington said. "We've had a good year. We're ahead of last year's figures, by about 10 percent."
Whether or not the market in Licking County is slowing, Smith said she continues to see new houses for sale.
"Even on our street now, we have a lot for sale," she said. "You don't know the reasons, just somebody relocating or down-sizing. I can drive and anywhere downtown you see a lot for sale." The Associated Press contributed to this report. Source: http://www.centralohio.com/apps/pbc...002&template=BF