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As prices climb, Ohio and U.S. home sales fall in December

January 23, 2019

As prices climb, Ohio and U.S. home sales fall in December

CLEVELAND, Ohio – As home prices continued to rise in Ohio last month, sales fell off from year-ago levels. Still, state real estate professionals were upbeat about how 2018 ended.

“It was a solid year for the Ohio housing market, as we experienced record gains in average prices and nearly matched our best-ever level of sales activity,” said Anjanette Frye, president of the Ohio Association of Realtors, in a statement accompanying the statewide trade association’s December sales report this week. Those figures are gathered from multiple listing services.

In December, sales of new and previously-owned homes fell 8.1 percent from November and 5.3 percent from December 2017. For the year, home sales were down 1 percent from 2017.

This sales decline occurred as home prices climbed. The average sale price in December was $180,284, a 5.6 percent increase from December 2017, the Ohio Association of Realtors reported. The average sale price for the year rose to $182,561, also a 5.6 percent increase over 2017’s average price.

In Northeast Ohio, home sales were basically flat from 2017 to 2018, The Plain Dealer reported earlier this month. The average sale price for a house in Northeast Ohio rose 5.3 percent compared with 2017, according to listing service data for 18 counties in the region.

December sales in Northeast Ohio totaled 3,468 homes, a 6.4 percent decline from the same month the previous year. The average sale price in the region was $172,615, a 9.7 percent increase from December 2017.

This trend is occurring nationally, too.

The National Association of Realtors this week reported that December sales of existing homes dropped 6.4 percent from November and 10.3 percent from December 2017 (the national trade association does not include newly-built homes in its monthly reports). NAR’s chief economist, Lawrence Yun, attributed this to higher interest rates in 2018.

“The housing market is obviously very sensitive to mortgage rates,” Yun said in a statement. “Softer sales in December reflected consumer search processes and contract signing activity in previous months when mortgage rates were higher than today. Now, with mortgage rates lower, some revival in home sales is expected going into spring.”

Nationally, the median – or middle – price for an existing-home sale was $253,600 in December, a 2.9 percent bump from December 2017. NAR reported that this was the 82nd consecutive month of year-over-year price increases.

At the end of December, available housing inventory in the U.S. was down from November but up from year-ago levels, which Yun said is a good thing for home buyers.

“Several consecutive months of rising inventory is a positive development for consumers and could lead to slower home price appreciation,” he said. “But there is still a lack of adequate inventory on the lower-priced points and too many in upper-priced points.”

NAR reported that in the Midwest, existing-home sales in December were down 11.2 percent from the previous month and down 10.5 percent from the same month the year before. The median sale price in the Midwest was unchanged from the year before, at $191,300.

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