The Albuquerque Journal metro residential real estate market ended 2009 with mixed results in transactions and sale price, but with an inventory of resale homes that’s healthier than it has been in almost three years.

There were 4,630 detached, existing homes for sale in December, or 7.7 months worth of inventory. That’s down from 5,222 homes on the market the year before and down from the summer 2007 peak of more than 6,000 homes for sale. An average market is a 6-month supply, and anything over that is generally considered a buyers market.

If we start to see an increase in demand, you’re obviously going to see an increase in (in prices), especially if supply continues on the decline. What we need to see is a steady, slow increase in home sale prices and in the number of transactions that are occurring, versus a dramatic increase like we did in 2005 and 2006.

December , 09 marked the third consecutive month that median sale prices headed up-from $170K in October, to $175,550 in November and $175,875 last month, an increase of 3.5 percent total. The median is the price at which half the homes sold for more and half for less. However, in a year to year comparison, the median dropped by 2.24 percent, from $179,900 to $175,875. Average sale prices which can be skewed by the sales of a few very high-priced or low-priced homes, also ended higher, at $216,687. That’s up from about $209,633 last year.

The number of new listings, closed sales and pending sales all were down for December, compared with previous months. While that’s in line with the typical winter slump, December was also coming off of artificially higher sales months spurred by the homebuyer tax incentive, which originally ended Nov. 30th.

In fact, the fourth quarter marked a huge jump in closed sales: Almost 2,000 homes sold in the quarter, up 43 percent from the same period last year when 1,389 homes sold.

In hopes of continuing to attract buyer activity, the federal government extended and expanded the homebuyer tax credit of up $8,000 for first-time buyers. The new deadline by which contracts must be signed is April 30. Closings must occur by June 30. A credit of up to $6,500 is now also being offered to repeat buyers who have owned their current homes for at least five years. Fourth-quarter statistics showed home sale price declines of about 4 percent compared with 2008.

Your Comments: