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Pending Home Sales Decline in December

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A measure of who signed contracts to buy homes fell last month in New Mexico and across the country after the national data showed a 2 1/2-year high in November. Sales were held back by a limited supply of available homes.

There were 720 pending sales in the Albuquerque metro area, down 7 percent from the 779 a month earlier but up 20 percent over the 602 in December 2011, according to data from the Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors.

The median sale price of $169,500 in the Albuquerque metro area in December was higher the median of $165,000 in November and $160,000 in December 2011.

Inventory as of the end of December in the metro area was the lowest amount of homes since June 2006 at 3, 587 homes, GAAR data showed.

Statewide, the median sales price in December was $171,000, up over November’s $169,697 and up over $161,500 in December 2011, according to the Realtors Association of New Mexico, which measures a combination of new and existing homes.

The National Association of Realtors said Monday that its seasonally adjusted index for pending home sales dropped 4.3 percent in December from November to 101.7. That’s still 6.9 percent higher than it was a year ago.

The decline signals that sales of previously occupied homes might cool off in the coming months. There’s generally a one- to two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed sale.

Still, completed sales of previously occupied homes rose last year to their highest level in five years, one of many signs of recovery in the housing market last year. And the Realtors’ group forecasts that sales will rise 9 percent this year, as the recovery strengthens.

Stable job gains and record-low mortgage rates have encouraged more people to buy homes. And a tight supply of homes for sale has pushed up prices and made builders more confident to step up construction.

In December, the index of contracts signed fell in the Northeast, South and West. But it ticked up in the Midwest. The supply of homes costing less than $100,000 was particularly tight in the West, the Realtors said.
— This article appeared on page B1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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