January 18, 2012 (Jeff Alan)

Monthly home sales bucked the seasonal trend and took a turn for the better in December while housing inventories continued to dwindle and home prices held steady according to RE/MAX’s National Housing Report (NHR).

Closed transactions of home purchases increased 5.7 percent from November to December and were 1.1 percent higher than in December 2010, the sixth consecutive month home sales have increased year-over-year.

Twenty out of the 53 metro areas in the report posted year-over-year increases in closed transactions. Providence, RI (+32.3%), Wilmington, DE (+24.1%), Nashville, TN (+20.5%), Miami, FL (+19.1%), Albuquerque, NM (+17.0%) and Chicago, IL (+16.7%) recorded the highest year-over-year gains in closed transactions in December.

The median sales price of homes sold in December was 1.0 percent lower than in the previous month of November, decreasing from $181,322 to $179,587. The median sales price was 3.5 percent lower than the median price of $189,353 in December of 2010. It was the 15th consecutive month that home prices have declined year-over-year.

Twenty of the 53 metro areas posted higher sales prices in December than they did a year earlier, down from 33 metro areas the previous month. The areas that posted the largest price gains during the month were Miami, FL (+16.7%), Orlando, FL (+14.0%), Little Rock, AR (+6.9%) and Phoenix, AZ (+6.4%).

The average number of days it took to sell a home in December was 98, which was 1 day longer than the 97 days it took in November. The average month’s supply of inventory in December remained unchanged from November at 7.8 months, but was still down from a 10.2 month supply of homes in December 2010.

For all 53 metro areas, the average monthly inventory of homes for sale declined by 11.0 percent from November and was 25.7 percent lower than in December 2010. It was the 18th consecutive month that the supply of homes for sale has declined.

Margaret Kelly, CEO of RE/MAX, LLC., stated “We’re pleasantly surprised to see the year end with such strong sales, and hope this trend will continue into the traditional spring selling season. This December jump may be due to increased investor involvement and transactions that were scheduled to occur before the end of the year, but with prices at or very near the bottom and historically low interest rates, consumers are finding real value in this market.”

Tags: home sales, home prices, seasonal trends, closed transactions, median sales price