CINCINNATI - There were more signs Monday that the housing market's recovery is well under way.
The Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors reported a 19 percent increase in sales in October compared to a year ago. The Northern Kentucky Association of Realtors said sales were up 4.6 percent in the same period.
It's the 16th consecutive month of increases in Cincinnati and the 15th for Northern Kentucky.
Home prices continue to increase as well.
The average selling price in Cincinnati is up 6 percent to $151,768 and up 4 percent in Northern Kentucky to $146,909.
"Improved home affordability in turn helps boost consumer confidence," said Tom Hasselbeck, Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors President. "That, along with an anticipated increase in housing inventory could bode well for a favorable housing market in 2013."
Realtors indicate the housing market has returned to a "balanced" state, which means there's about a six-month supply of inventory available.
Interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate loan averaged 3.45 percent in October, down from 4.28 percent a year ago.
Hasselbeck said with rental prices up 5 or 6 percent, many people may choose to buy a home because it's more affordable in the long run.
He added that investors are now putting in multiple offers for properties to flip as banks continue to sell properties acquired in the foreclosure process.
Ken Warden, President of the Northern Kentucky Association of Realtors, said home sales could be even higher if there was a return to safe and sound lending standards.
He said tight lending still holds back many homebuyers, making the U.S. housing recovery fragile.
"There are many reports of lenders who are taking too long to approve loan applications and that the information lenders require from borrowers is excessive," he said.
Warden notes that homes are selling faster these days in Northern Kentucky. A year ago, the largest percentage took more than 120 days to close. Now, 37 percent of home closed sold within 30 days or less.
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