Archived Story

Housing market turned corner in 2012

Published 1:29pm Friday, January 25, 2013


ST. JOSEPH — “Looking at this past year we can say that we are at the turning point.  The housing market showed overall good signs of improving.  In 2006, our market peaked.  It then declined quickly and from 2008 through 2011 the market held fairly steady in the number of houses sold and total dollar volume.  In 2012, we experienced a nice leap in those areas.  And the market improved without sacrificing selling prices.  Selling prices increased modestly over 2011.  As long as the local economy continues improving and the federal government does not implement any conditions that would affect home ownership, our housing market looks as if it has bottomed out and should continue to improve,” stated Gary Walter, executive vice president of the Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors Inc.

“In 2012,” Walter continued, 2,916 houses sold and closed which gave us a 24 percent increase over 2011.  In 2011, 2,361 houses were sold, the lowest number since our peak year in 2006 when 3,595 houses were sold. The year-to-date total dollar volume at $492,934,404 was a 29-percent increase over $383,582,001 recorded in 2011.”

“The year-to-date average and median selling prices were down the first half of the year and in June turned positive for the rest of the year when compared to 2011. The year-to-date average selling price was $169,045, a 4-percent increase over 2011.  The year-to-date median selling price at $105,000 was a 5-percent increase over 2011.”

The median price is the price at which 50 percent of the homes sold were above that price and 50 percent were below.

Nationally, existing homes sales eased in December but are well above a year ago, while limited inventory maintained the upward momentum in home prices, according to the National Association of Realtors. Total sales in 2012 were the highest in five years, while the annual price rose the most since 2005.

“Our local housing market in December had a disappointing increase in the percentage of bank-owned or foreclosed homes as a part of all closed transactions.  In November the percentage dipped to the lowest point for the year at 23 percent and in December the percentage increased to 31 percent.  For seven months of the year the percentage was at or below 29 percent.  This is another sign that the market is stabilizing and showing improvement.  January was the peak month with 46 percent. Previously, the peak monthly percentage reached 75 percent in 2009 then fell to 50 percent in 2010 and 47 percent in 2011.  The lowest percentage month in 2009 was 34 percent and 24 and 26 percent in 2010 and 2011, respectively,” Walter reported


The local housing market inventory decreased throughout the year and ended in December at 2,179 houses for sell which is a decrease of 11 percent from last year.  At this level of inventory, the market has 9.2-months supply of homes.  At the end of year in 2011, there was a 12.7-months supply and in 2010, a 13.6-months supply.


The mortgage rate in southwest Michigan started the year at 4 percent and in December was 3.48 percent.  Last year in December the mortgage rate was 4.06.

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was a record low 3.35 percent in December, the same in November; it was 3.96 percent in December 2011.



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