REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey: December 2018 Highlights

REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey: December 2018 Highlights

The REALTORS® Confidence Index (RCI)[1] survey gathers monthly information from REALTORS® about local real estate market conditions, characteristics of buyers and sellers, and issues affecting homeownership and real estate transactions.[2] This report presents key results about market transactions from December 2018. View and download the full report here.

Market Conditions and Expectations

  • The REALTORS® Buyer Traffic Index registered at 48 (66 in December 2017).[3]
  • The REALTORS® Seller Traffic Index registered at 39 (47 in December 2017).
  • The REALTORS® Confidence Index—SixMonth Outlook Current Conditions registered at 59 for detached single-family, 48 for townhome, and 46 for condominium properties. An index above 50 indicates market conditions are expected to improve.
  • Properties were typically on the market for 46 days (40 days in December 2017).
  • Seventy-five percent of respondents reported that home prices remained constant or rose in December 2018 compared to levels one year ago (90 percent in December 2017).
Realtors Buyer and Seller Traffic Indices

Characteristics of Buyers and Sellers

  • First-time buyers accounted for 32 percent of sales (32 percent in December 2017).
  • Vacation and investment buyers comprised 13 percent of sales (16 percent in December 2017).
  • Sales of distressed properties (foreclosed or sold as a short sale) accounted for two percent of sales (five percent in December 2017).
  • Cash sales made up 22 percent of sales (20 percent in December 2017).
  • Twenty-two percent of sellers offered incentives such as paying for closing costs (10 percent), providing warranty (9 percent), and undertaking remodeling (3 percent).[4]
First-Time Buyers As Percentage of Residential Sales

Issues Affecting Buyers and Sellers

  • From October–December 2018, 75 percent of contracts settled on time (71 percent in December 2017).
  • Among sales that closed in December 2018, 74 percent had contract contingencies. The most common contingencies pertained to home inspection (54 percent), obtaining financing (45 percent), and getting an acceptable appraisal (42 percent).
  • REALTORS® report “interest rate” and “low inventory” as the major issues affecting transactions in December 2018.
REALTOR® CONCERNS

About the RCI Survey

  • The RCI Survey gathers information from REALTORS® about local market conditions based on their client interactions and the characteristics of their most recent sales for the month.
  • The December 2018 survey was sent to 50,000 REALTORS® who were selected from NAR’s more than 1.3 million members through simple random sampling and to 9,600 respondents in the previous three surveys who provided their email addresses.
  • There were 5,886 respondents to the online survey which ran from January 2-11, 2019. The survey’s overall margin of error at the 95 percent confidence level is one percent. The margins of error for subgroups and sample proportions of below or above 50 percent are larger.
  • NAR weighs the responses by a factor that aligns the sample distribution of responses to the distribution of NAR membership.

The REALTORS® Confidence Index is provided by NAR solely for use as a reference. Resale of any part of this data is prohibited without NAR’s prior written consent. For questions on this report or to purchase the RCI series, please email: Data@realtors.org


[1] Thanks to George Ratiu, Managing Director, Housing and Commercial Research and Gay Cororaton, Research Economist for their data analysis and comments to the RCI Report.

[2] Respondents report on the most recent characteristics of their most recent sale for the month.

[3] An index greater than 50 means more respondents reported conditions as “strong” compared to one year ago than “weak.” An index of 50 indicates a balance of respondents

who viewed conditions as “strong” or “weak.”

[4] The difference in the sum of percentages to the total percentage of sellers who offered incentives is due to rounding.

December 2018 Existing-Home Sales

December 2018 Existing-Home Sales

  • NAR released a summary of existing-home sales data showing that housing market activity this December, fell after two straight months of gains and was down 6.4 percent from November. Sales of existing-homes dropped 10.3 percent from December 2017. December’s existing-home sales reached a 4.99 million seasonally adjusted annual rate.
  • The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $253,600 in December, up 2.9 percent from a year ago. This marks the 82nd consecutive month of year-over-year gains.
  • Regionally, three of the four regions showed growth in prices from a year ago, with the Midwest remaining flat. The Northeast had largest gain of 8.2 percent followed by the South with a gain of 2.5 percent. The West had a modest gain of 0.2 percent from December 2017.
  • December’s inventory figures are down from last month 10.9 percent to 1.55 million homes for sale. Compared with December of 2017, there was a 6.2 percent increase in inventory levels. It will take 3.7 months to move the current level of inventory at the current sales pace. It takes approximately 46 days for a home to go from listing to a contract in the current housing market, up from 40 days a year ago.
  • From November 2018, the Midwest experienced the largest decline in sales of 11.2 percent. The Northeast had a decline of 6.8 percent followed by the South with a dip of 5.4 percent. The West had the smallest decline of 1.9 percent.
  • All four regions showed declines in sales from a year ago. The West had the biggest drop in sales of 15.0 percent. The Midwest had a decline of 10.5 percent followed by the South with a drop of 8.7 percent. The Northeast had the smallest drop in sales of 6.8 percent. The South led all regions in percentage of national sales, accounting for 41.9 percent of the total, while the Northeast had the smallest share at 13.8 percent.
  • In December, single-family sales were down 5.5 percent and condominiums sales were down 12.9 percent compared to last month. Single-family home sales fell 10.1 percent and condominium sales were down 11.5 compared to a year ago. Single-family homes had an increase in price up 2.9 percent at $255,200 and condominiums rose 2.3 percent at $240,600 from December 2017.