2013 Ends With Higher Housing Demand, Prices

It’s official: Home prices and housing demand in 2013 closed in a stronger position compared to 2012, according to the National Housing Trend Report released on Tuesday by realtor.com.

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The median list price for December 2013 was 8.1 percent above December 2012, according to the data. The median age of inventory was down by 5.1 percent and the number of units for sale was essentially unchanged — all positive signs of a stronger market compared to December 2012.

The report also showed some month-over-month slowdowns typical of the winter homebuying season. The total inventory of homes for sale in the United States declined from 1,846,155 units in November to 1,731,017 units in December. Age of inventory rose from 101 to 112 days, and the median list price declined from $197,700 to $194,500.

“As we open the new year, the first-quarter inventory figures are especially crucial as our first barometer into seller confidence for the 2014 homebuying season,” said Errol Samuelson, president of realtor.com. “The market is still showing significant demand, but in order to have a strong homebuying season, sellers need to put their homes on the market.”

Other factors could affect consumers when it comes to 2014 housing. The National Association of Realtors recently highlighted concern about the effect of the qualified-mortgage rules that took effect this month, which may further decrease credit availability. Another fear was the impact that the implementation of the Affordable Care Act this month could have on consumer finances.

2013 highlights

Price recovery penetrated most markets: The breadth of the price recovery during 2013 was extraordinary. Forty-two markets across the nation experienced double-digit price growth over 2012. In December, median list prices for 116 markets were up 1 percent or more on a year-over-year basis. Only 14 of the 142 markets tracked by realtor.com registered annualized price declines as the year ended.

Demand stayed strong throughout 2013: The 2013 homebuying season was made famous with its inventory shortages, cash offers and bidding wars. Despite seasonal slowing, December 2013 continued to see considerably short median age of inventory with Oakland, Calif., leading the pack at 48 days.

Spring inventory declines led to fall inventory gains: Many of the markets that experienced multiple bids and fast price gains because of inventory shortages in spring 2013 ended the year with the greatest inventory gains as sellers responded to the price increases.

Source: MSN Real Estate

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