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Home sales are hot in Kansas City

Kansas City skyline. Manufacturing and employment numbers may be sagging, but the housing market is has really turned around in some places, Kansas City being one of them.

Jeff Horwich: We're hearing reports that the housing market is slowly coming back in parts of the country. In Kansas City, sales are up dramatically. In the hottest neighborhoods, sellers have actually reclaimed the upper hand.

From KCUR, here's Frank Morris.


Frank Morris: Jeremy and Elizabeth Bixby want kids, more space and a better neighborhood. So they decided to sell their 40-year-old duplex in suburban Kansas City. It went up for sale March 1st of last year.

Elizabeth Bixby: Needless to say, by July 1st, I was starting to wonder if it would ever sell. We had thought when we bought that the market had hit bottom, and we realized that it hadn't.

Nobody even came to their open houses. The Bixbys delayed having children, even passed up job opportunities, because they couldn't move. Finally, they just took their duplex off the market. But when they put it back on, this spring -- bam!

Jeremy Bixby: We were absolutely shocked when it sold like that.

Suellen Dice: The market is different, than it was last year.

Suellen Dice, a real estate agent in Kansas City. She says sales across the region are up more than 13 percent from last year.

Kansas City's economy is diverse, and the housing market is kind of boring. Home prices never ballooned here the way they did in other cities, and they didn't fall as fast or as hard.

Still, Dice says many new buyers come in expecting recession-era giveaways.

Dice: I think there's some good value. There are no deals. I don't think there are any deal.

Even for people like Bryan Tamke, and his fiancée -- potential homebuyers with good jobs, credit and savings.

Bryan Tamke: I think we both kind of went thinking, 'oh, this is still a buyer's market, we're going to be able to get a great deal, we're going to be able to go back and forth on negotiations.' Wasn't like that.

Tamke and his fiancée wanted a house in Brookside, one of those leafy, walkable -- you know, idyllic neighborhoods. They offered full price, as soon as the place hit the market. Wasn't enough.

Tamke: Now we have an offer on a new place, and it's over asking price, which I didn't think we would ever do. But I think we realize the value in getting it now, and what it could potentially become as the market keeps rebounding.

Relators say the Kansas City housing market has a lot of rebounding yet to do. It's just that, compared to last year, things are really looking up.

In Kansas City, I'm Frank Morris for Marketplace.

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