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Market Summary for the Beginning of April

Starting with the basic ARMLS numbers for April 1, 2018 and comparing them with April 1, 2017 for all areas & types:

  • Active Listings (excluding UCB): 16,972 versus 19,810 last year - down 14.3% - and up 0.3% from 16,924 last month

  • Active Listings (including UCB): 21,800 versus 24,794 last year - down 12.0% - but up 1.7% compared with 21,474 last month

  • Pending Listings: 7,128 versus 7,572 last year - down 5.9% - and down 0.4% from 7,158 last month

  • Under Contract Listings (including Pending, CCBS & UCB): 11,985 versus 12,556 last year - down 4.5% - but up 2.4% from 11,708 last month

  • Monthly Sales: 9,566 versus 9,354 last year - up 2.3% - and up 35.3% from 7,071 last month

  • Monthly Average Sales Price per Sq. Ft.: $161.08 versus $148.31 last year - up 8.6% - and up 1.5% from $158.71 last month

  • Monthly Median Sales Price: $253,995 versus $232,500 last year - up 9.2% - and up 1.2% from $251,000 last month

Total active listings (including UCB and CCBS) saw a small increase of 1.7% during March, but when we remove the UCB and CCBS listings that already have a contract, we see only a 0.3% rise. At least this is better for buyers than the 1.7% decline we saw in February, but it is not enough to make a difference.

There were 22 working days in March, 16% more than February and 4% fewer than the 23 days we enjoyed in March 2017. In that context the sales counts for March 2018 look very positive. Surprisingly positive given the shortage of supply that is restricting volumes in many segments. Volume at the higher price points remains much higher than in 2017 and supply is plentiful there, so this is compensating for lower transaction counts at the entry level.

For pricing, there is only good news for sellers and bad news for buyers. The monthly average price per sq. ft. increased almost 9% over March 2017 and the median sales price rose by more than 9%. With pending listings priced at 0.7% higher per sq. ft. than last month, this upward trend looks likely to continue for at least another month.

Those seeking for any sign of market weakness should probably focus on the pending and under contract numbers. The are both down from this time last year. However we see many closed listings that were never pending or UCB, being added to the MLS after the transaction closed, purely to register the sale for agent productivity statistics. This trend has been increasing for several years now and tends to make pending and under contract numbers look low relative to sales counts. We would need to see bigger drops in these numbers before we could attribute any market weakness as a cause. Indeed, keeping transactions off the MLS can justifiably be considered a sign of abnormal market strength.

The Cromford Market Index has advanced from 159.0 to 160.8 over the last month. This tells us we are in a strong seller's market with little change. What change there has been has been in the seller's favor.


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