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 were down in the Charlotte region by 4.4 percent to 2,601. Pending Sales held steady at 2,769. Inventory shrank 5.9 percent to 8,718 units. Prices moved higher as Median Sales Price was up 1.6 percent to $236,750. Months Supply of Homes for Sale was down 4.3 percent to 2.2 months, indicating that demand increased relative to supply. 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.
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