By Peter Ricci
The U.S. housing market ended 2012 on solid footing in the Redfin Real-Time Price Tracker, with home prices, housing inventory and home sales all improving over 2011.
A monthly measure of the housing market's key fundamentals, the Real-Time Price Tracker tracks data from 19 of the nation's largest metropolitan markets.
Real-Time Price Tracker – 2012 Market Finishes On Top
Though home sales did slow a bit in December, falling to their lowest level in 10 months, they did close out 2012 ahead of 2011, even with, as the Real-Time Price Tracker found, housing inventory continuing to tighten:
- Housing inventory was down by 33 percent year-over-year in December and 11.5 percent just from November; in the last two years, housing inventory has fallen by 44 percent, a stunning drop that has rendered the housing market a far cry from the abundance of properties the market saw in 2008 and 2009.
- As Redfin notes, though, private residential construction spending did increase again in November, so it seems homebuilders are moving to close up that gap of inventory (and as we reported just yesterday, they are a confident bunch while doing so).
- Though home sales were down 4.1 percent from November to December (it will be interesting to see how NAR's data compares to this), home sales for December did finish the year a healthy 3.4 percent above December 2011, and best of all, for the entire year, total homes sales were 9 percent above 2011.
- Also positive were home prices in December, which were 11.3 percent higher than in 2011; that's the ninth month in a row that national home prices increased year-over-year, and the second straight month in which all 19 cities sampled by Redfin saw their values increase.
Buckle Your Seat Belts – Will it be a Rockin' Spring?
As positive as all those aforementioned stats are for the housing market, perhaps the most optimistic of all was the Real-Time Price Tracker's finding on fast-selling listings. According to the report, in December, 27.5 percent of new listings were under contract in two weeks or less, which is nearly identical to October and November.
This suggests that although home sales did decline a tad from November to December, activity remains high, and according to Redfin's stats guru Tim Ellis, such activity suggests a very active spring homebuying season – though interestingly, as another Redfin report from Ellis demonstrates, housing inventory has yet to respond to this demand; indeed, the number of total new listings in the first two weeks of the year is nearly 20,000 less than last year, and nearly 30,000 less than in 2010.