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There's no winter cool-down for Buffalo Niagara housing market

Not even the traditional winter slowdown is taking the steam out of the local housing market.

Prices keep rising at a moderate pace. Fewer homes are for sale. And homes continue to sell quickly, according to new data from the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors.

• The median sale price in November rose to $160,000, up 5% from a year ago.

• Homes are still selling quickly – the average home is on the market for a little more than a month before it sells.

• And sales remain strong, although the pace continues to run slower than last year as rising prices cut into affordability and record low listings limit the choices buyers have.

• The market still is tilted in favor of sellers, with only enough homes to absorb a little more than three months’ worth of sales. A housing market is considered to be in balance between buyers and sellers when there is a six-month supply of homes available.

Solid demand and a limited supply are steadily pushing up home prices. While prices are rising at their slowest pace in three years, keep in mind that local home prices rose by as much as 5% only once between 2001 and 2017.

The median price of the homes sold last month held at $160,000 for the second straight month. It was a record high for November, but less than the all-time monthly high of $171,250 set in August.

Home sales have fallen by a little more than 2% during the last 12 months, based on revised data from the real estate trade group. That’s the slowest pace for home sales in four years, but sales through November already top the annual totals from any year between 1996 and 2015.

With inventory down, the average home that sold last month went for a fraction less than its most recent asking price.

The biggest factor shaping the Buffalo Niagara housing market is the lack of homes for sale. The number of homes for sale fell by nearly 10% last month – extending a nine-year decline in inventory that has left buyers with about 40% fewer choices than they had just four years ago.

The decline could be abating, however, with new listings rising for three of the past three months, despite a 9% decline in November.

Homes keep selling briskly in a market with inventory shrinking and low mortgage rates. The average home that sold last month was on the market for 35 days, two days less than last October, but 3 1/2 weeks faster than 2016.

With only enough homes to absorb a little less than three months’ worth of sales, sellers have a big advantage in negotiations with buyers.

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