In December, home sales climbed 1.2% year-over-year, marking the smallest increase since March 2012, according to new data from Redfin.

Notably, Redfin also discovered that although U.S. home sale prices reached a median of $289,000, they fell in nine of the 75 largest metros the company tracks.

Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather said December may feel like a foot on the brake, but the housing market was going over the speed limit.

“Home prices have been growing faster than wages since 2012, and that can't go on forever. Now that price growth has slowed down and more homes are sitting on the market, buyers will have the upper hand in 2019,” she continued. “Buyers will have more options with more homes for sale, and it will be sellers working to woo buyers into making an offer.”

Fairweather said buyers, for the time being, have the benefit of mortgage interest rates that are lower than they were in late 2018, which will make borrowing more affordable.

According to Redfin’s analysis, the number of homes newly listed for sale in December retreated 4.1% from the previous year. However, due to the large decrease in home sales, the number of homes for sale on the market hit a 42-month high, rising 4.8% last month.

Furthermore, the national number of completed home sales fell at a faster rate than it has in nearly 3 years, dropping 10.9% from December 2017. Lastly, home sales fell in 69 of the 76 largest metro areas that Redfin tracks.

"Buyers shopping now are benefiting from sellers who are willing to negotiate, since it's anyone's guess what the spring real estate market will look like," Redfin Agent Jessie Culbert said. "Well-priced, appealing homes are seeing the return of pre-inspections and even multiple offer situations, so it may be too soon to get comfortable with the idea of a slower market."

3d rendering of a row of luxury townhouses along a street

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