For months, John LeCates said he was "cautiously optimistic" about York County's housing market.
Then, the president of the Realtors Association of York & Adams Counties was less cautious and said he was simply optimistic.
"Now, I can say I definitely feel good about it," he said.
Numbers released Friday by the association show home sales in the county increased 13 percent in July.
The association reported 342 homes were sold in July, compared to 304 sold during the same month a year ago.
Meanwhile, the median sales price slid to $147,200 - a 2 percent decrease from the $150,635 price tag during July 2011.
"We're still getting through bank-owned properties, and that's why prices are down," he said. "That hurts prices, but it doesn't hurt sales."
York County had a huge housing boom between 2004 and 2007, when many new residents moved into the county from Maryland and other areas, he said.
That boom increased home values until the economic downturn hit in 2008 and left many borrowers upside down on their mortgages, ultimately leading to foreclosures and bank-owned properties, he said.
But as the economy started to show signs of improvement and the York County unemployment rate hovered around 7 percent, home sales have steadily increased this year, he said.
The Friday stats show 2,155 homes were sold in York County from Jan. 1 through July 31 - an 8 percent increase compared to the 2002 home sales during the first seven months of 2011.
The Central York School District has seen the most new activity this year, with 248 homes sold there. That's a 28 percent increase from the 194 homes sold there between January and July last year.
During that same time period, the median sale price there fell from $171,175 in 2011 to $158, 400 this year, a 7 percent decline.
Dallastown School District follows closely behind with 236 homes sold through July, 8 percent more than the 219 sales there last year through July. The median sale price there has also dipped from $159,000 during the first seven months of 2011 to $150,000 in the same time period this year.
West York School District is also adding residents, with 166 homes sold there through seven months this year - a 35 percent increase from the 123 home sales there last year. The median sales price during that time period has slightly declined from $129,900 to $121, 950.
And in July, the median sales price there was $114, 787, compared to $171, 900 last year.
"In West York, people are getting inexpensive houses right outside the city. They're getting a lot more home and pay half the taxes," LeCates said.
As sales continue to go up, prices will also start to up gradually, he said.
"Buyers will probably see higher prices at the end of this year into next year," he said.
- Candy Woodall can also be reached at email@example.com.