Home sales in Fayette down 19%

Home sales in Fayette County fell by more than $178 million in 2008 from the year before, about a 19 percent drop, to about $765 million.

Sales in 10 Central Kentucky counties were down by a cumulative $272 million for the year, according to figures released Friday by the Lexington-Bluegrass Association of Realtors.

While the number of homes sold fell 18 percent, the median sales price in Fayette County was $157,500, only a 1 percent drop.

Two of the 10 counties, Jessamine and Anderson, did eke out small gains in homes sold.

In Bourbon County, the number of homes sold dropped by 20 percent, while the median price of those homes fell 12 percent, to $96,500, the only one of the 10 counties to slide below $100,000.

That has definitely made for a rough year, said Charlie Nichols at Rector-Hayden Realty in Paris.

Bourbon County is a bedroom community for Lexington employers and many people are finding it tough to find a home in that median price range, he said. There are plenty of houses on the market, Nichols said, but they are either at the high end of the range, or at the low. "As far as actual people moving up, we don't have it right now," he said.

Like many counties in Kentucky, Bourbon has been hurt by work furloughs at Central Kentucky's auto plants and parts suppliers. "All that overtime is gone, and people are scared. They're not going to be buying and selling a house right now," Nichols said.

And he doesn't expect that to change soon. "I'm looking at a 12-24 month cycle correction," he said. In the meantime, some homes have been on the market for a year without selling, he said.

The sales figures, including the time spent on the market, released by the LBAR do not reflect homes that were taken off the market, said Gale Fulton, president of the association. She said it is difficult to speculate on how many or why homeowners might give up on a sale.

"There will be a different reason for each person selling," Fulton said. "It's more a homeowner by homeowner situation."

While Bourbon County had the biggest percentage drop in number of homes sold and in median price, Woodford County had the biggest percentage change in sales by dollar figure, dropping 22.5 percent to less than $48.5 million in sales.

Fayette County, with the largest population, had the biggest overall dollar drop and the drop in sales by number of homes was also the greatest, with 891 fewer Lexington homes sold in 2008 than in 2007.

LBAR released home-sales statistics for 10 of the 14 Central Kentucky counties covered by the association.

LBAR had previously announced that residential sales in the 14-county area for 2008 were down 15 percent from 2007. The median sales price for single family residential properties was $143,000 in 2008, down 2 percent compared to 2007.