Realtors confident about prospects for housing market

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Home sales activity throughout Ohio increased 23.6 percent in November, helping the marketplace record its 17th consecutive monthly sales gain, according to the statistics provided by the state's Multiple Listing Services.

Sales of new and existing homes have posted a 14 percent increase during the first 11 months of 2012 compared to the same period a year ago, reaching 104,001 sales versus the 2011 mark of 91,213.

"The Ohio housing market is continuing to make significant progress in its attempt to fully recover from the economic downturn of a few years ago," said Robert U. Miller, president of the Ohio Association of Realtors.

Miller noted that the association began tracking sales data in 1998 and the current stretch of 17 straight monthly gains is the longest uninterrupted period of sales growth the Ohio market has ever recorded.

"Across the Buckeye State we're building a solid foundation for a sustainable, growing housing marketplace going forward," he said. "Ohio Realtors continue to be extremely confident about the prospects for our market -- as interest rates remain at historic lows, prices have begun to trend upward, inventories are declining, sellers are increasingly realistic in their pricing expectations and consumers understand that long-term, owning a home is a tremendous investment."

Not only have sales levels during the first 11 months exceeded the pace of a year ago, the average sales price (January through November) throughout Ohio this year is up 5.1 percent, reaching $135,460 versus the 2011 mark of $128,540.

Total dollar volume this year is nearly $14.1 billion, a 20.2 percent increase from last year's 11-month mark of $11.7 billion.

Miller noted that a recent survey of the state's real estate professionals suggests the industry remains cautiously optimistic about the market's outlook in the coming months. The OAR Housing Market Confidence Index, a recently created measurement of the perception Ohio Realtors have of the marketplace, offers the following highlights of the December 2012 report:

86 percent of Realtors describe the current housing market in their area as moderate to strong; a significant increase from the 53 percent mark the profession posted during the month a year ago. This month's Realtor Current Market Index measurement reached 49, a 21-point improvement from the December 2011 score of 28.

89 percent of the respondents have moderate to strong expectations for their market in the next six months; increasing 23 percentage points from the December 2011 level of 66 percent. This month's Realtor Future Market Index reached 55, a 19-point increase from the December 2011 Index of 36.

92 percent of Realtors believe home prices over the next year will remain stable and could even post gains; 3 percentage points more than the findings in December 2011 (of 89 percent). The Realtor Price Index for Realtors' expectations for the next year reached 67, a 21-point increase improvement from the mark recorded during the month a year ago (46).

"Ohio's Realtors remain remarkably bullish about the current and long-term prospects of our housing market," Miller said. "Realtors are there when buyers and sellers express their hopes and concerns during what is often the largest financial decision made in a lifetime. Our outlook is simply a reflection of the discussions taking place at countless kitchen tables across Ohio.

"We've made significant progress in our confidence about the market in a relatively short period of time," he added. "Realtors fully understand that there will be challenges and obstacles in our economic recovery efforts in the months ahead, but are certain that the desire to achieve the American Dream of homeownership remains strong throughout Ohio."

Sales in November reached 9,254, a 23.6 percent increase from the 7,485 sales posted during the same period a year ago. The month's average sales price of $135,392 is an 8.5 percent increase from the November 2011 mark of $123,904.

Total dollar volume in November nearly reached $1.3 billion, a 35.1 percent increase from the $927 million mark posted a year ago.

Data provided to OAR by Multiple Listing Services includes residential closings for new and existing single-family homes and condominiums/co-ops. The Ohio Association of Realtors, with 26,000 members, is the largest professional trade association in Ohio.

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