Housing Update

The latest market data from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) shows that Existing-home sales dipped slightly in December from the previous month, but were “well above” sales activity for the same period one year earlier. In addition, total sales for 2012 were the highest in five years as the national median existing-home price increased the most since 2005.

Total sales volume for existing-homes declined 1.0 percent in December from the previous month. These sales reflected a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.94 million units sold, which was down from the 4.99 million units in November, also on a seasonally adjusted basis. However, the December 2012 figures were 12.8 percent higher than those from one-year prior when 4.38 million seasonally adjusted sales were made.

Looking at preliminary annual total sales for existing homes in 2012, the NAR anticipates that the final sales figures for the year will be 4.65 million units, which is an increase of 9.2 percent from the 4.26 million units in 2011. The 2012 total is the highest volume since 2007 when 5.03 million units were sold. Actual final sales figures for 2012 will not be available for several more weeks.

The median existing-home price nationally, for all types of housing, was $180,800 in December, which was an 11.5 percent increase over December 2011. The NAR states that this is the 10th consecutive month for year-over-year gains, and is the highest increase since November 2005 when prices jumped 12.9 percent. This last ten month consecutive gain cycle was from August 2005 to May 2006.

Again looking at preliminary figures for all of 2012, the median existing-home price should finish the year around $176,600, up from $166,100 in 2011, which is an annual gain of 6.3 percent. This would be the strongest annual price gain since 2005 when the median prices increased by 12.5 percent.

The NAR says sales of distressed homes, foreclosures and short sales, accounted for 24 percent of the sales in December, with sales split evenly at 12 percent for foreclosures and 12 percent for short-sales. The 24 percent sales figure is up from 22 percent in November but is below the 32 percent share in December 2011. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 17 percent below market value in December, while short sales were discounted 16 percent.