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Front Page - Friday, February 15, 2019

Home sales slowing despite strong economy

Despite a strong U.S. economy, historically low unemployment and steady wage growth, home sales began to slow across the nation late last year.

What could be causing the slowdown? Economists point to a combination of high prices and a steady stream of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. In a move described as a patient approach to further rate changes, the Federal Reserve did not increase rates during January 2019. The lack of increase seems to be the Federal Reserve’s response to the growing affordability conundrum.

Nationally, home affordability will continue to set the tone for the 2019 housing market. Early signs point to an improving inventory situation including in several markets that are beginning to show regular year-over-year percentage increases. In Greater Chattanooga for January, New Listings increased 15.6 percent to 1,082.

As motivated sellers attempt to get a jump on annual goals, many new listings enter the market immediately after the turn of a calendar year. This is true nationally and here in the Chattanooga region. If home price appreciation falls more in line with wage growth, and rates can hold firm, consumer confidence and affordability are likely to improve.

While New Listings were up for January, inventory levels did see a slight decrease of 1.2 percent to 2,635 units. Pending Sales were up 9.3 percent to 796, which is an increase of 9.3 percent over last year.

As expected, when inventory is low, prices continued to gain traction for January. The Median Sales Price increased 1.1 percent to $180,000, and the Average Sales Price increased 2 percent to $216,752. Days on Market was down 8.8 percent to 62 days.

Sellers were encouraged as Months Supply of Inventory was down 6.1 percent to 3.1 months. As we move toward spring and the typical time the market sees more activity, we anticipate the 3.1 Months Supply of Inventory to improve. This increased activity will make our annual Open House Weekend on April 27 and 28 that much more exciting!

Greater Chattanooga Realtors® is The Voice of Real Estate in Greater Chattanooga. A regional organization with more than 2,000 members, Greater Chattanooga Realtors is one of some 1,300 local boards and associations of Realtors® nationwide that comprise the National Association of Realtors®. Greater Chattanooga Realtors service Hamilton and Sequatchie counties in southeast Tennessee, and Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties in northwest Georgia. For more information, visit www.gcar.net or call 423.698.8001.