Central Ohio home sales decline again

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Central Ohio home sales declined in November for the second month in a row, suggesting that the hot market of the last year is cooling off.

During the month, 1,812 homes changed hands in central Ohio, 10.3 percent down from last November. Despite the decline, sales remain up 17.8 percent for the first 11 months of 2013 over the same period in 2012.

Officials attribute the decline to unusually high sales last year, with which this year’s sales are compared, and an exceptionally low number of homes for sale in central Ohio.

“Given our lower inventory levels, it’s not surprising sales took a bit of a hit last month,” said Chris Pedon, president of the Columbus Realtors trade association, in a news release.

At the end of November, 9,611 homes were listed for sale in the Columbus area, the fewest since 2002.

Nationally, home sales declined for the third straight month in November, according to the National Association of Realtors. Sales fell 4.3 percent to an annual rate of 4.9 million, the lowest since December 2012.

“Home sales are hurt by higher mortgage interest rates, constrained inventory and continuing tight credit,” said Lawrence Yun, the association’s chief economist, in a news release.

“There is a pent-up demand for both rental and owner-occupied housing as household formation will inevitably burst out, but the bottleneck is in limited housing supply, due to the slow recovery in new home construction. As such, rents are rising at the fastest pace in five years, while annual home prices are rising at the highest rate in eight years.”

The median national sales price was $196,300 in November, a slight decrease from October but 9.4 percent higher than a year ago.

In central Ohio, the median sales price was $138,000 in November, 1.5 percent above a year ago.

jweiker@dispatch.com