Looking back from the vantage point of a new year, it’s hard to determine what kind of market conditions we’ll see come spring. As of this writing, the U.S. government has been closed for one month and, by the end of this week, government employees will be missing their second paycheck.

The rough and tumble 2018 stock market has cooled somewhat. Although, whether the bull market will return or be replaced by the slumbering bear remains to be seen. If trade negotiations with China continue to go unresolved and federal government remains shuttered, some economists predict another recession.

One bright spot — the Federal Reserve made the decision to forgo an interest rate hike in December. Which brings us to the housing market — here’s where things stand, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Current U.S. Housing Market: The Numbers

  • $255,200 – The median existing home price for December, up 2.9% year-over-year
  • $240,600 – The median price for existing condos in December, up 2.3% year-over-year
  • 4.45 million – The seasonally-adjusted annual rate for sales in December of single family, condo, and co-ops. That’s down from 4.7 million in November and 10.1% below the 4.95 million sales pace of December 2017.
  • 0.7% – The decrease in pending home sales in December, down from 101.4% in November
  • 7.7% – The decrease year-over-year in contracts signed
  • 46 – The number of days a home remained on the market, up from 42 in November and up from 40 year-over-year
  • 39% – The percentage of homes sold in December that were on the market for less than month
  • 6.4% – The decrease in completed transactions in November for single family homes, condominiums, and co-ops
  • $4.99 million – Seasonly-adjusted rate in December for median existing home prices, down year-over-year from 5.56 million, for a decrease of 10.3%
  • 82 – The number of months home prices have increased
  • 2.9% – The increase in home prices year-over-year, up from $246,500 to $253,600
  • $1.55 million – The decrease in total housing inventory at the end December, down from $1.74 million in November, but an increase from $1.46 million year-over-year
  • 3–7 months – Worth of inventory available at current sale pace in December, down from 3.9 in November, but up from 3.2 in October
  • 32% – The percentage of sales in December that were to first-time homebuyers, down from 33% in November, but the same year-over-year
  • 22% – Purchases that were made with cash, up 1% over November and 2% year-over-year

The Bottom Line

There’s no indication that 2019 will be any less frenetic than 2018. With a Democratic Congress and Republican Senate, things are bound to continue to be contentious. Not to mention that once again, we find ourselves in a year leading up to a presidential election.

With all that said, buried in these numbers may be some good news for real estate agents. The gradual slowing of home price increases, combined with more judicious interest rate increases and a growing housing inventory, could spark a buyers market in 2019. That is, of course, providing the stock market recovers, the trade issues with China are resolved, and the government reopens.

Fingers crossed.