Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Homes Sales Up in January, Prices Down

Yesterday two reports about metro Albuquerque real estate said life is mostly good and getting better.
The Albuquerque Journal reviewed 2012 home sales and said the inventory of homes offered for sale is down, sales are up on a monthly and a year-over-year basis and prices are up. The housing market has turned a corner from the bubble, the Journal report said.
A few details are worth mention. The Journal’s report probably was about all single family homes, both detached and attached (townhouses and condominiums), but this wasn’t clear. While 8,387 attached and detached total sales during 2012 was the highest since 2007, the metro population has grown. My guess is that sales remain down on a per capita basis from pre-bubble times. Likewise, while the 1.7% average price increase during 2012 is god news, it is behind the 2.1% increase in the main CPI, called the consumer price index for all urban consumers. In other words, if that 2.1% CPI increase works for Albuquerque, which it may or may not, the real value of homes dropped in 2012.
Niggling aside, 2006 was the last time one could say positive real estate things about Albuquerque. A nice change.
Except for dropping prices, the good news continued in January, according to the monthly sales report from the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors.
Both the median and average prices for single family detached homes dropped from December 2012 and from January 2012. The median price was $158,000 in January. The average was $186,051.
It has been at least four years since prices were this low. My files don’t go beyond 2009.
Why? No idea. Short sales? Could be. My only observation is that the number of highest-end sales, those over $500,000, dropped by more than half from December to January. The next lowest prices were in March 2012 when the average was $189,676 and the median was $159,000.
The 480 sales closed during January were down from December as is seasonally normal, but up 16.8% from January 2012. The number of sales pending during January, 969, jumped 35% from December and was up “only” 16% from a year earlier. Around 70% of sales pending during one month tend to turn into closed sales during the next month. That suggests February sales might be more than 600, allowing for the short month. We’ll see.
The homes sold during January took an average of 74 days to sell, the longest sales period since 76 days in June 2012.
Sales of townhouses and condominiums mirrored the detached home performance with prices down and closed and pending sales down from December and up from January 2012.

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