A sixth consecutive month of declining home sales in January contributed to the largest year-over-year inventory increase in at least 10 years, according to the latest RE/MAX National Housing Report.
While year-over-year home sales dropped 11 percent—extending a streak that began in August—inventory grew year-over-year by an average of 6.4 percent across the report’s 54 U.S. metro areas. January marked the fourth consecutive month of year-over-year inventory growth, further reversing a decade-long trend of shrinking inventory. Dec. 2018’s year-over-year inventory growth of 4.7 percent was the previous record in the report’s 10-year history.
“The winter chill extended to the housing market in January, as home sales remained cool,” says RE/MAX CEO Adam Contos. “The good news is that inventory levels in January continued to rise on a year-over-year basis, providing incremental improvement in what’s been a multi-year shortage of for-sale homes. This is a positive for homebuyers, as the market continues to swing their way.”
The median sales price of $234,000 was a report record for January, increasing 4.6 percent over Jan. 2018, but the rate of sales price increase was considerably less than the 6.7 percent posted from Jan. 2017 to Jan. 2018. Dec. 2018 was the only month since January 2012 to show a year-over-year decline in median sales price.
Fifty-nine days on market was a record low for January sold listings, averaging one day less than the 60 posted in Jan. 2018. January’s 3.9-month supply of inventory was higher than the 3.4-month supply of Jan. 2018.
“Underlying demand remains solid overall, as evidenced by widespread price increases,” Contos says. “So the housing market, while not markedly busy in January, remains relatively healthy. Furthermore, with interest rates stabilizing and home-price increases slowing, the spring selling season shapes up to be as interesting as any we have seen in years.”
Of the 54 metro areas surveyed in Jan. 2019, the overall average number of home sales was down 26.1 percent compared to Dec. 2018, and down 11.0 percent compared to Jan. 2018. Only Billings, Mont., experienced an increase in sales year-over-year, at +7.1 percent.
Median Sales Price
In Jan. 2019, the median of all 54 metro median sales prices was $234,000, down 2.5 percent from Dec. 2018, and up 4.6 percent from Jan. 2018. Four metro areas saw a year-over-year decrease in median sales price: Anchorage, Alaska, at -3.9 percent, Pittsburgh, Pa., at -2.0 percent, Trenton, N.J., at -1.5 percent, and Birmingham, Ala., at -0.5 percent. Six metro areas increased year-over-year by double-digit percentages, with the largest increases seen in Augusta, Maine, at +12.1 percent, Las Vegas, Nev., at +11.2 percent, and Wichita, Kan., at +10.5 percent.
Days on Market
The average days on market for homes sold in Jan. 2019 was 59, up four days from the average in Dec. 2018, and down one day from the Jan. 2018 average. The metro areas with the lowest days on market were Omaha, Neb., at 32, Nashville, Tenn., at 41, and a three-way tie between Las Vegas, Nev., Cincinnati, Ohio, and San Francisco, Calif., at 43. The highest days on market averages were in Augusta, Maine, at 100, Hartford, Conn., at 94, and Anchorage, Alaska, at 93. Days on market is the number of days between when a home is first listed in an MLS and a sales contract is signed.
Months Supply of Inventory
The number of homes for sale in Jan. 2019 was down 2.6 percent from Dec. 2018 and up 6.4 percent from Jan. 2018. Based on the rate of home sales in January, the months supply of inventory decreased to 3.9 from 4.1 in Dec. 2018, and increased compared to 3.4 in Jan. 2018. A 6.0-months supply indicates a market balanced equally between buyers and sellers. In January 2019, nine of the 54 metro areas surveyed reported a supply at or over 6.0-months, typically indicating a buyer’s market, including Miami, Fla., at 9.0 and Indianapolis, Ind., at 8.6. Nine markets shared the lowest the months supply of inventory at 2.0.
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