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Market Summary for December


Things quieted down during November. Demand fell but much more slowly than in October while supply rose far more slowly too.December Report

The Cromford® Market Index drifted down from 106.7 to 96.9 which represents a significant change, but less than half the drop from 126.7 we saw the month before. In most (but not all) markets buyers now have the advantage in negotiations over sellers.

A complicating factor is that November had only 18 working days, 18% fewer than October’s 22. This means we are seeing unusually low numbers for monthly totals such as closed sales and foreclosures.

Here are the basic ARMLS numbers for December 1, 2013 relative to December 1, 2012 for all areas & types:

  • Active Listings (excluding UCB): 24,043 versus 18,122 last year – up 32.7% – and up 3.1% from 23,330 last month
  • Active Listings (including UCB): 26,817 versus 23,012 last year – up 16.5% – and up 2.7% compared with 26,123 last month
  • Pending Listings: 5,965 versus 9,170 last year – down 35.0% – and down 1.4% from 6,047 last month
  • Under Contract Listings (including Pending & UCB): 8,739 versus 14,060 last year – down 37.8% – and down 1.1% from 8,840 last month
  • Monthly Sales: 5,175 versus 6,792 last year – down 23.8% – and down 15.9% from 6,152 last month
  • Monthly Average Sales Price per Sq. Ft.: $123.28 versus $105.88 last year – up 16.4% – and down 0.9% from $124.34 last month
  • Monthly Median Sales Price: $183,400 versus $155,000 last year – up 18.3% – and down 0.8% from $184,900 last month

Pending listing counts have stabilized, suggesting that we have already seen the worst of monthly sales volumes falling, especially as December has 21 working days, so will look rather good compared with November.

The average price per square foot is down a little compared with last month, but probably has some further to go before momentum runs out, because the the average $/SF for pending sales is still advancing. We still expect sales prices to stabilize in the area between $125 and $130 per square foot.

We continued to see a higher level of cancelled listings during November, but not worse than October which was the worst month since August 2011. Expired listings remain at a subdued level, well below average. List price reductions have been fewer in number for the last two weeks compared with the prior month. All these things suggest that the “soft spot” in the market is nearing an end. Supply is likely to fall for the rest of December, reversing the trend that has been in place for about 5 months.

Last month we advised watching the Cromford® Market Index to see if it would stop falling so fast and eventually turn round. It has stopped falling so fast, but has yet to turn around. We are therefore watching for a sustained increase followed by an increase in pending listing counts. If and when these signals occur we will know that the current cooling phase is over. If they do not occur soon then the current subdued market is likely to continue for some time.

Michael OrrAbout Michael Orr
The Cromford Report is owned and produced by Cromford Associates LLC, an Arizona limited liability company managed by Mike Orr and based in Mesa AZ. Mike holds a masters degree in Mathematics from the University of Oxford in England and spent 31 years in the computer industry, working for IBM, Amdahl, Splash Technology and the Santa Cruz Operation. In his most recent positions he was President of Tarantella and CEO of Mobilearia. He first started investing in real estate in 1976 and left the computer industry to focus on real estate in 2002.
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