Summit County home sales took a dip in December, but were up 11.4 percent for the year.
A low inventory of homes on the market might depress sales in the new year, but area real estate sellers say the housing market is recovering.
A total of 430 homes changed hands in December in the county, down 7.5 percent from the 465 sold in December 2011, but up 20 percent from the 358 sold in December 2010, according to figures from the Akron Area Board of Realtors.
For all of last year, home sales totaled 5,712, up 11.4 percent from the 5,127 sold in all of 2011, and up 19.8 percent from the 4,769 sold in 2010.
Tony DeLuke, the new president of the Akron Area Board of Realtors, is buoyed by the year-over-year increase: “The market has got a little ways to go, but it’s much stronger; it’s getting better.”
DeLuke, with Markley Realty, said that with the home inventory down, “sellers are in a stronger position to get their sales price [and] have values go up again.”
He pointed to the jump in the average sales price for December, which was $148,521, an increase of 19.1 percent from $124,730 in December 2011.
He noted that Kiplinger.com, a personal finance website, had named the Akron area one of 12 spots across the country where home prices had risen the most last year.
The increase “puts a little shine on the Rust Belt,” an article on the website said. “The market in Summit County, which a few years ago was burdened by high inventory, much of it distressed, is improving,” the article went on to say.
Gary Stouffer, owner-broker of Stouffer Realty, headquartered in Fairlawn, echoed others in the business when he said the low inventory limits buyers’ choices and is likely to be a drag on sales.
“I think what we’ll find is that sales are down for the first two months of this year,” Stouffer said. “That’s not because people don’t want to buy, it’s because the lack of inventory is there.”
He blamed the lack of inventory partly on the big drop in new home construction during the recession.
Inventory soared during the economic downturn and recession from 2007-09 as foreclosed and distressed properties, including those listed as short sales, hit the market. Short sales occur when a lender allows a property to be sold for less than what is owed on the mortgage.
The good news, Stouffer said, is, “I think we’re going to start seeing prices push up and people getting more for their houses and multiple offers on a house.”
For December 2012, inventory totaled 3,098. That’s a 25 percent decline from the 4,131 homes available in December 2011 and down by nearly a third — 30 percent — from the 4,484 available in December 2010.
The 3,098 homes available last month is the lowest figure in at least nine years. Akron Area Board of Realtors data, which dates to the beginning of 2004, put the next lowest inventory number at about 3,500 homes in January 2004.
The median price of homes sold in Summit County in December 2012 rose to $111,500, up 17.4 percent from $95,000 in December 2011 and up 8.3 percent from $103,000 in December 2010.
The median price for all 12 months of last year was $114,500, up 15.7 percent from $98,950 in all of 2011, and up 1.3 percent from $113,000 in 2010.
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or firstname.lastname@example.org.