Housing Inventory Posts Record Increase as Declining Sales Extend to Sixth Month
A sixth consecutive month of declining home sales in January contributed to the largest year-over-year inventory increase in at least 10 years, according to the RE/MAX National Housing Report.
While year-over-year home sales dropped 11% – extending a streak that began in August – inventory grew year-over-year by an average of 6.4% across the report’s 54 U.S. metro areas. January marked the fourth consecutive month of year-over-year inventory growth – further reversing a decade-long trend of shrinking inventory. December 2018’s year-over-year inventory growth of 4.7% was the previous record in the report’s 10-year history.
The median sales price of $234,000 was a report record for January, increasing 4.6% over January 2018. But the rate of sales price increase was considerably less than the 6.7% posted from January 2017 to January 2018. December 2018 was the only month since January 2012 to show a year-over-year decline in median sales price.
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Homebuyers around Washington state are making their way back to the market, hoping to take advantage of improving inventory, attractive interest rates, and more approachable sellers.
2018 Home Sales Cool Off, While Inventory Recovers and Price Increases Moderate
December’s declining home sales and growing inventory solidified 2018 as the year the red-hot seller’s market moved toward a balanced market. Price growth also moderated, though December was the 33rd consecutive month of year-over-year increases in home prices, according to the RE/MAX National Housing Report, which includes 53 metro areas.
December’s year-over-year decline in home sales of 12.1% set a December record in the 10-year history of the report and also marked the fifth consecutive month that home sales were lower than 2017. December was 2018’s 10th month of year-over-year declines in home sales with only April and July topping 2017 sales.
Most telling was December’s 4.6% growth in inventory, which was also a report record. December’s year-over-year inventory increase marked the third consecutive month of growth – a trend reversing a decade-long streak of year-over-year inventory declines.
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Inventory Bounces Back, While Home Prices Increase
Extremely low inventory improves as sales drop for the fourth month, according to the November 2018 RE/MAX National Housing Report.
“The road to market normalization can be bumpy,” said RE/MAX CEO Adam Contos. “It’s good to see the small uptick in inventory, and the drop in November sales isn’t too surprising – given the recent trends, the mid-term elections, and the earlier-than-usual Thanksgiving holiday.”
- Inventory Continues to Climb
Years of shrinking inventory gave way in November 2018 to a second consecutive month of year-over-year growth in the number of homes for sale. Across the 53 metro areas surveyed, inventory rose 3.0 percent – the highest monthly year-over-year gain in the 10-year history of the report.
- Declining Home Sales
November home sales, meanwhile, declined 6.9 percent, which was the second-largest year-over-year decline of 2018 and the biggest year-over-year sales decline for November in five years. This year only April and July sales exceeded 2017 totals for the corresponding months.
- Median Sales Price Increased
November’s median sales price of $235,000 was 4.0 percent higher than November 2017 and was the highest November price in the report’s history. It marked the 32nd consecutive month of year-over-year price increases. Comparing the first 11 months of 2018 to 2017, home prices are up 6.0 percent.
“As we near year-end, three main themes appear clear – buyers are grappling with affordability issues and tight inventory; sellers are unsure how to react to the cooling market; and homes priced properly are still selling rather quickly,” added Contos. “All three underscore the fact that the guidance of a professional agent is even more critical in times like these.”
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With more plentiful inventory, recently announced increases in lending limits, and moderating prices, prospective home buyers are finding more options around Western Washington, according to industry experts from Northwest Multiple Listing Service.
For the past five quarters, the majority of Americans said their housing markets were overheating. Now, in the fourth quarter, 75 percent of Americans say their local housing market is starting to cool, according to ValueInsured’s Q4 2018 Modern Homebuyer Survey. Homeowners in California, Colorado, Texas, and Washington are most likely to say their local market is starting to cool off.
The survey “revealed some concerning evidence about the changing psychology of the housing market,” says Robert Shiller, a housing economist. “We will be watching these numbers as they unfold over the future.”
Seventy-two percent of Americans and 78 percent of “urban residents” say home prices are still too high. Urban homeowners blame “flippers and speculative investors” and “wealthy transplants from more expensive housing markets” for inflating their local home prices to unsustainable levels, according to the report.
Some home buyers may hit the pause button to see what happens in the housing market. Fifty-nine percent of interested home buyers (which includes first-time and move-up buyers) say they plan to wait for a “meaningful correction” before they buy. Fourteen percent say they plan to not buy at all until a correction occurs.
Several markets are seeing home prices slow. ValueInsured’s report notes that the fastest drops in home prices have been happening in Seattle, and North Texas has seen some of its largest sales declines in seven years.
“Buyers have switched from ‘hoop jumpers’ to bargain-hunter mode,” says Joe Melendez, CEO and founder of ValueInsured.
Source: REALTOR® Magazine