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Home sales in Sedgwick County are slowing down. But prices are still going up

Dan Moyle
flickr Creative Commons

Local experts say rising interest rates and limited inventory are keeping home sales lower than last year.

Sedgwick County saw 20% less home sales in July than the previous year, according to new data.

It’s the third consecutive month home sales have fallen by double digits in Sedgwick County.

But that doesn’t mean the housing market has suddenly cooled.

“The market may not be as incredibly hot as it was a year ago,” said Stan Longhofer, the director of Wichita State University’s Center for Real Estate. “You’re still going to get scalded if you put your hand on it.”

The slow down is due to a variety of factors, local realtors and real estate experts said.

One of them is rising interest rates, said Sheila Rumsey, the chief executive officer of the Realtors of South Central Kansas. The federal reserve raised interest rates four times since March to slow inflation. Since then, mortgage rates across the country have increased significantly.

Rumsey said at the end of 2020 and in 2021, low interest rates and stimulus money spurred a lot of demand to buy a house in south-central Kansas.

“People who had been in real estate for 50 years had never seen a market like we’ve seen in the last 18 months,” Rumsey said. “Now that interest rates are just slowly creeping up — and still at very reasonable levels — it’s just starting to finally taper off and calm down a little.”

Longhofer said that the decrease in home sales is because there’s not enough inventory to meet demand. July data shows Sedgwick County only has a month's supply of homes available for sale. A healthy housing market has between 4 and 6 months.

“The demand is there, and we would see increased sales, but there simply aren’t enough listings … that are available,” Longhofer said.

The supply of homes available for sale in Wichita is less than a health market.
The supply of homes available for sale in South Central Kansas is less than in a healthy market.

The limited supply and high demand are continuing to drive prices up. The price of homes sold in Sedgwick County increased 12% percent this July compared to last year. This also moderates the demand for housing, Longhofer said.

With decreased home sales and increased prices, Wichita fits into a national trend. Forecasts from the National Association of Realtors predict sales will be down by 13% while prices will be up 11% nationwide in 2022.

Despite the decrease in home sales, both Longhofer and Rumsey said that the housing market is still hot — it only looks cooler in comparison to the housing market of the past two years.

“If you were driving down the highway at 200 miles an hour, and you slowed down to 100 miles an hour, you’d feel like you’re going very slow,” Longhofer said. “But you’re still speeding really fast.”

Celia Hack is a general assignment reporter for KMUW. Before KMUW, she worked at The Wichita Beacon covering local government and as a freelancer for The Shawnee Mission Post and the Kansas Leadership Center’s The Journal. She is originally from Westwood, Kansas, but Wichita is her home now.