Home sales slide to end the year

Statewide home purchases approached 151,600 past year, up 7.5 percent from 2015, according to a Tuesday report from the Ohio Association of Realtors.

There were 57,599 homes sold in the Bay State a year ago, up from from 53,104 in 2015, according to March.

The NAR also highlighted the shortfall in housing inventory, which dropped by 10.8 percent to just 1.65 million homes now available for sale.

In face, one expert stressed that lack of inventory is one of the most important factors holding back home sales.

"However, higher mortgage rates and home prices combined with record low inventory levels stunted sales in much of the country in December", Yun said.

"It was a remarkable year for the OH housing market, as we experienced record gains in sales and average prices", Pete Kopf, a Cincinnati-area Realtor and the statewide trade group's president, said in a news release.

The median existing-home price rose by 4 percent over-the-year in December up to $232,200, the 58 consecutive month of year-over-year gains for median home prices.

Median price: $178,400, a 4.6 percent year-over-year increase.

Despite the increase, Chattanooga home prices still average about 30 percent less than the U.S.as a whole.

The PHLX housing index rallied 2.80 percent on expectations that the inventory squeeze would provide a boom for homebuilders, outperforming the broader stock market. Inventory decreased 6.3% from previous year and has fallen for 19 consecutive months to a 3.6-month supply at the current sales pace.

The supply of homes for sale fell for the 19 straight month to 3.6 months, a historically low number and down from 3.9 months in December 2015, NAR said. The numbers registered from last month were actually last seen 18 years ago, when the housing market also had a big drop.

While the industry sets its eyes on a new presidential administration, an executive action by President Donald Trump suspending a recent 25-basis-point decrease in the Federal Housing Administration's mortgage insurance premium could dampen existing home sales by keeping as many as 40,000 homebuyers out of the market this year.

Shares in the nation's largest homebuilder, D.R. Horton, surged 6.22 percent. The monthly average commitment rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.20 percent in December.

December's sales were up 0.7 percent compared to the same period a year ago. Carpenter also noted that December tends to be a slow time for home sales, and uncertainty around the impact of the election may have kept people from taking action.

Sales activity dropped throughout most regions, falling in the Northeast, West and Midwest, whereas staying the same in the South.

  • Wendy Palmer