January 20, 2011 (Jeff Alan)
According to the RE/MAX National Housing Report, after five consecutive months of declines, homes sales rose 13.2 percent in December compared to November. However, compared to the year earlier, December home sales fell 5 percent. Although, RE/MAX said that is the lowest year-over-year drop in five months.

There was good news for areas such as Arizona and Florida which produced yearly gains in home sales. In Phoenix, home sales jumped 12.8 percent in December from the year ago. In Tampa, Fla., sales rose 7.4 percent and in Miami, home sales climbed 9.9 percent. Both areas have been two of the worse hit areas during the housing slump.

“It’s nice to see that sales were much higher than in November, with a year-over-year difference better than we’ve seen in months, and it’s encouraging that prices appear to be remaining stable,” Kelly said. “These positive trends should build as we enter the traditionally strong home-buying months in the spring and summer.”

Overall home prices continued to lag as prices were still down 2.2 percent from the year early and down 0.9 percent from November with the median sales price of $192, 941.

Out of the 54 major metropolitan areas that RE/MAX tracks, 28 areas experienced year over year home price appreciation, while 23 metro areas experienced home price decreases, and three areas remained flat.

Other areas that experienced hefty price appreciation were Cleveland (up 12%), Indianapolis (up 9.6%), Pittsburgh (up 8.6%), Dallas-Fort Worth (up 8.4%) and New Orleans (up 6.8%).

Homes sold in December were also on the market slightly longer than last year with last month averaging 96 days before they were sold, which is higher than the average of 93 days for sales closed in November and 92 days in December 2009.

According to RE/MAX, the months it would take to move inventory off the market increased to 10.2 months, but housing inventory was down 8.8 percent month over month and down 2.9 percent from December 2009.

A healthy market is considered to have a six month supply of inventory.

Tags: RE/MAX, national housing report, home sales, housing inventory, price appreciation, healthy market