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Home prices up; inventory, listings down in December

The inventory of homes for sale in the Charlotte region fell again in December to a new historic low, while the median sales price of a home in the Carolina Multiple Listing Services increased 6.3 percent from December 2014.

December also brought the lowest number of new listings since 2004, the earliest year for which the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association has that data. New listings in December totaled 2,396, an 11.7 percent decrease over December 2014. For the year, new listings were up 1.1 percent.

However, the number of new listings was similar to that in December 2011 and is “not very far from every December,” the lowest month for listings, said Maren Brisson-Kuester, CRRA president. New listings in December have historically ranged from about 2,400 to 3,000, she said. December listings peaked at 3,500 in December 2007.

Inventory declined 24.2 percent compared with December 2014, when there was a 4.5-months’ supply.

Although Brisson-Kuester said she expects inventory to continue being the industry’s biggest challenge in 2016 – in December it fell to a 3.0-months’ supply – “I think we’re going to see an uptick in inventory…It’s not going to double overnight. I think we’ll see a slow, steady, conservative increase.”

Brisson-Kuester cited the resurfacing of underwater homes, low lending costs and improving job security and wages as factors expected to drive more homeowners to put their houses on the market after sitting put since the Great Recession.

In addition to fewer people listing their homes, factors contributing to low inventory include an increasing population in the region, the rise of institutional investors in rental homes over the past several years, and relatively low single-family housing starts.

This has driven up prices, but Brisson-Kuester said Charlotte is still one of the more affordable areas and home prices have never spiked too high or dipped too low.

She said the rising prices may convince more homeowners to sell.

“You gain more confidence as a seller when you see homes selling and see prices increasing,” she said.

In other statistics based on the CarolinaMLS, which the CRRA owns:

*Sales were down 2.6 year over year in December, to 3,007 properties sold from 3,088. Closed sales for 2015 were up 11.7 percent over 2014, to 40,463 from 36,227.

*Both the median and average sales prices were up in December, marking four consecutive years of price gains. The median sales price, $190,000, was up 2.8 percent over December 2014 and the average sales price, $241,094, was up 3.4 percent

*For the year, the average sales price across the region was $242,168, an increase of 4.5 percent over 2014, and the median sales price was $192,500, up 6.3 percent.

*The average list price in December, $254,018, increased 7.0 percent year over year, bringing the percent of original list price to 95 percent, an increase of 1.3 percentage points compared with December 2014. For all 2015, the original list price received was 95 percent, compared with 94.1 percent for 2014.

*Preliminary pending sales for December totaled 2,540, an increase of 14.1 percent year over year. Pending contracts for all of 2015 totaled 41,875, up 15.1 percent compared with 2014.

*The average number of days a property was on the market from list to close was 119 days, which is a decrease of 9 days from December 2014. Days on market, the metric that accrues for “Active” and “Under Contract-Show” statuses only, totaled 64 days in December 2015 compared with 76 days in December 2014.

*Foreclosures and short sales have returned to pre-recession levels, with the share of closed sales that were lender-mediated down 27.1 percent and accounting for 4.3 percent of closed sales for all of 2015.


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