By Kim Bass, ABR, CNHS, GREEN, RCC
President, Greater Chattanooga Realtors
Home prices were consistently up again in most markets in 2018 but at reduced levels compared to recent years. High demand for few homes for sale fueled price increases, but evidence is mounting that inventory will finally improve in 2019. This may apply some downward pressure on prices for beleaguered home buyers. A fourth interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve in 2018 spooked the stock market to close out the year. The Fed has indicated that the number of rate increases in 2019 will be halved, which may be of little comfort to an already compressed consumer.
New Listings in the Chattanooga region increased 4.2 percent to 689. Pending Sales were up 2.0 percent to 625. Inventory levels shrank 4.5 percent to 2,615 units.
Prices continued to gain traction. The Median Sales Price increased 8.9 percent to $195,000. Days on Market was down 16.9 percent to 49 days. Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 6.1 percent to 3.1 months.
Unemployment rates remained remarkably low again in 2018, and wages continued to improve for many U.S. households. It is generally good for all parties involved in real estate transactions when wages grow, but the percentage of increase, on average, has not kept pace with home price increases. This created an affordability crux in the second half of 2018. Housing affordability will remain an important storyline in 2019.