Despite the traditional winter slow down, both home prices and sales inched higher in December. The RE/MAX National Housing Report, a survey of MLS data in 52 metropolitan areas, found the December median home price of $185,400 was 11.9% higher than the median in December 2012. After double-digit growth in home sales during the summer, sales cooled off, but December still saw a 0.7% year-over-year increase. Slower sales growth is associated with a limited inventory of homes for sale coupled with increased lending requirements and mortgage fees. At the rate of home sales in December, the Months Supply of inventory rose to 5.9 months, nearly equal to the 6.0 supply that defines a market balanced equally between buyers and sellers. Although the national inventory situation remains tight, it appears to be trending in the right direction. With a 12.0% drop in inventory from December 2012, the percentage of year-over-year inventory loss has shrunk for nine consecutive months.
Transactions year-over-year change
The December RE/MAX National Housing Report found a 4.5% monthly increase in home sales, and a 0.7% increase in sales from December last year. On a year-over-year basis, home sales have increased in 29 of the last 30 months. The October government shutdown and severe weather, among other factors, may have accounted for a drop in November sales and the small increase seen in December. Of all 52 metro areas surveyed in December, 37 reported higher sales than in December 2012.
Median Sales Price
For all homes sold in December, the Median Price was $185,400. This price represents a 0.9% decrease from November, but an 11.9% rise from December 2012. The Median Price of a home has been greater than in the same month of the previous year for 23 consecutive months. Home price increases throughout 2013 have been attributed to the limited inventory supply and high buyer demand. Of the 52 metro areas surveyed in December, 45 reported higher sales prices than one year ago. Of those, 17 metro areas reported double-digit increases.
Days on Market
For all homes sold in the 52 markets surveyed in December, the average number of Days on Market was 73. This is five days higher than the average seen in November, but still 11 days lower than the average seen in December 2012. December marks the 19th consecutive month with an average Days on Market below 90. The low Days on Market average is associated with continued high demand and a reduced inventory of homes for sale. Days on Market is the number of days between when a home is first listed in an MLS and when a sales contract is signed.
Months Supply of Inventory
The 2013 housing market has been characterized by a low inventory environment. However, recent inventory reductions are much less than what was reported earlier this year. December saw a 12.0% loss in inventory from last year, and the Months Supply increased to 5.9. While improving, low Months Supply remains in some key markets.
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