February 17, 2012 (Jeff Alan)

Home sales returned to their normal seasonal trends in January following December’s unexpected jump but still remained higher than last year’s levels according to RE/MAX’s National Housing Report (NHR).

Closed transactions of home purchases declined 19.3 percent from December to January but were still 3.4 percent higher than in January 2011, the seventh 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. Albuquerque, NM (+33.9%), Wilmington-Dover, DE (+33.2%,) Atlanta, GA (+26.3%), Indianapolis, IN (+19.6%), Providence, RI (+19.6%), Nashville, TN (+19.5%), Cleveland, OH (+18.9%) and Chicago, (IL +15.3%) recorded the highest year-over-year gains in closed transactions in January.

The median sales price of homes sold in January were 3.4 percent lower than in the previous month of December and were 0.8 percent lower than the median price in January of 2011. It was the 17th consecutive month that home prices have declined year-over-year.

Only 15 of the 53 metro areas posted higher sales prices in January than they did a year earlier, down from 20 metro areas the previous month. The areas that posted the largest price gains during the month were Miami, FL (+23.8%), Orlando, FL (+15.8%), Tampa, FL (+15.6%), Phoenix, AZ (+9.0%), Little Rock, AR (+5.5%) and Detroit, MI (+5.1%).

The average number of days it took to sell a home in January was 103, which was 5 days longer than the 98 days it took in December. The average month’s supply of inventory in January was 7.3, down from 7.8 months in December and down from a 10.1 months supply of homes in January 2011.

For all 53 metro areas, the average monthly inventory of homes for sale declined by 4.2 percent from December and was 24.1 percent lower than in January 2011. It was the 19th consecutive month that the supply of homes for sale has declined.

Margaret Kelly, CEO of RE/MAX, LLC., stated “This positive start to the year will hopefully set the tone for a continuing housing recovery that’s drawing home buyers with low interest rates and low prices. If sales continue ahead of last year’s pace and inventory does not increase significantly, we could start to see increasing home prices this year.”

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