November Home Sales and Median Price Continue Uphill Climb
Warwick, RI, December 27, 2012…Single family home sales rose 43 percent last month from the year prior and median price showed signs of continued stabilization according to data from the Rhode Island Association of Realtors. The median price of $195,000 rose one percent from November 2011. The supply of homes for sale fell 21 percent in the past year, leaving just under a six-month supply of homes for sale, which signifies a market balanced between supply and demand. November is the first month to achieve a balanced market since the housing market began to falter.
Pending sales – those under contract but not yet sold – also continued their upward momentum, rising by nine percent in November. Foreclosure and short sales rose slightly from 22 percent of all sales in November, 2011 to 23 percent of all sales last month. The median price excluding such sales was $220,500.
"We're optimistic about the 2013 housing market but we are concerned about the fiscal cliff and the impact it may have on capital gains and the mortgage interest deduction. One of the proposals that we're hearing about is the elimination of the mortgage interest deduction on second homes which comprise a large segment of the Rhode Island housing market. We're encouraging everyone to contact their members of Congress to urge them not to make changes that will hamper the housing recovery," said Victoria Doran, 2013 President of the Rhode Island Association of Realtors.
Doran also commented on various recent media reports that place Rhode Island as one of five states that did not see a price uptick. "Reports on sales statistics can be very confusing. Most reports commenting on the Rhode Island housing market refer to the Rhode Island Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) which includes New Bedford and Fall River. Others are talking about average sales price, rather than median sales price. Both can skew the numbers significantly. The Rhode Island Association of Realtors reports median prices – which aren't affected by large outliers at the top or bottom of the sales ranges – and reports sales in Rhode Island only," she said. Doran also explained that RIAR data is pulled within days of the recorded sales while other reports rely on information from town halls, which may report sales with longer lag times, often being recorded several months after the closing.
The condominium sector also fared well, with sales up 32 percent and media price up 25 percent to $205,000 last month. The number of condominiums on the market decreased 18 percent from November, 2011, leaving only a one-month supply of condos for sale, clearly indicating a seller's market. Buyer activity has begun to slow down however, as indicated by a two percent decrease in pending sales. Distressed sales dropped from 29 percent of total sales last year to 21 percent of sales this year. The median price of conventional sales only was $239,900.
"We're starting to see a trend of diminished inventory and rising prices in the condo sector, however, many condo developments turned into rentals during the market downturn. We may see those begin to convert back to units for sale in the year ahead. If so, we would expect to inventory to rise," said Doran.
The upswing in the multi-family market, which typically has a higher concentration of investors, seems to have leveled off since earlier this year. In November, sales declined 17 percent and median price dropped a scant .04 percent to $119,950 from $120,000 last year.
"Investors recognized the signs of favorable market conditions first," commented Doran. "Low prices and unbelievable low financing rates encouraged throngs of multi-family investors to buy earlier this year and last but that frenzy is now waning. There are still great deals out there however, especially if you are able to handle the renovations that may be necessary on a distressed property," said Doran.
Forty-three (43) percent of multi-family sales were sold through short sale or foreclosure this year compared to 59 percent last year. While the decline is significant, a large percentage of distressed multi-family properties remain, providing ample opportunities for investors. The median price of non-distressed properties of $157,450 was 31 percent higher than the median of all multi-family sales. "Overall, we're excited. I think we're finally able to look forward to a solid year of growth," said Doran.