US property sales increase and prices stable, RE/MAX report shows

Friday, 21 January 2011

After five consecutive months of declines, residential property sales in the United States rose 13.2% in December from the prior month, according to the RE/MAX National Housing Report.

But compared to the year earlier, December property sales fell 5%, although, RE/MAX said that is the lowest year on year drop in five months.

Two of the most badly depressed real estate markets, Arizona and Florida, saw sales increase. In Phoenix, Arizona, sales jumped 12.8% in December from the same month in 2009. And Florida, sales rose 7.4% in Tampa and in 9.9% in Miami.

RE/MAX chief executive Margaret Kelly said December’s figures put the housing market in strong position for growth as the home shopping season nears. ‘It’s nice to see that sales were much higher than in November, with a year on year difference better than we’ve seen in months,’ she said.

‘It is encouraging that prices appear to be remaining stable. These positive trends should build as we enter the traditionally strong home buying months in the spring and summer,’ she added.

The report also shows that prices indeed remained stable in the last month of 2010, dropping only 2.2% from 2009 and 0.9% from November. The median sales price was $192,941 in December.

Some 28 of the 54 major metropolitan areas tracked by RE/MAX experienced year on year home prices appreciation, including Cleveland up 12%, Indianapolis up 9.6%, Pittsburgh up 8.6%, Dallas-Fort Worth up 8.4% and New Orleans up 6.8%. Prices decreased in 23 metro areas and remained flat in three.

Properties sold in December were on the market for an average of 96 days, which is higher than the average of 93 days for sales closed in November and 92 days in December 2009, according to the report.

RE/MAX also reported a month on month dip in housing inventory, down 8.8%. The amount of inventory is down 2.9% from December 2009. However, the months it would take to move that inventory off the market increased to 10.2 months. According to RE/MAX, a balanced market of buyers and sellers is at a six month supply of housing inventory.