By Jason Boone

With the end of the year comes a loosening of the pace in many businesses, and that includes the real estate market. As has been seen frequently in the past in Bend, Oregon, and has come to be expected, the market cooled before the calendar flipped on what turned out to be a record-setting year.

The number of homes sold in Bend in December was down from the previous month and from December of the previous year. Does that mean the market is leveling off? Well, consider that the median sales price was down 5.2 percent from November — but up 9.0 percent from December of the previous year.

Although the raw number of homes sold in December (192) was down from the 196 sold in November (and the 214 sold in December 2015), as a percentage of active listings, month-over-month sales went up in December 2016: from 42.4 percent of active listings in November to 47.8 percent of active listings in December.

Still, there were signs that the fever of the market is slackening.

The average sales price to list price in December was 98 percent. Other than in March (when there was an anomalous 95 percent ratio of the sales price to list price), 98 percent is the lowest this calendar year. And it was realized in three of the last five months of the calendar year.

But based on historical data, such a decline was to be expected in December. In two of the three previous years, even as the real estate market rebounded from the depths of the recession, the average sales price to list price in December was off the highs set in those calendar years.

That type of seasonal dip has been followed, in each of the last five years, by successively higher year-end median sales prices.

The inventory of homes on the market is frequently used to gauge the status of the market, with six months the widely accepted threshold between a buyer’s market and a seller’s market. In December, we saw an inventory of 2.5 months — emphatically on the side of a seller’s market, yet the fourth-highest figure for that data point in Bend in 2016.

The preceding point might be the most apt reflection on the Bend market at the end of 2016: By the standard set earlier in the year — such as a median sales price of $385,750 in September — December represented a slowdown. But in looking at the time span for which the Skjersaa Group has data (dating to 2007), the $354,529 median sales price in December would have ranked as the fourth-highest entering 2016.

Other statistics of note from December’s sales report:

– December’s median sales price was the lowest since the $346,000 in March. But looking at previous years, such a decline isn’t unusual. The median price of $325,275 in December 2015 was more in line with the median sales price seen in the spring of that year.

– The median sales price for calendar year 2016 was $360,000. That number was essentially unchanged the final four months of the year and is the highest year-to-date median price in our 10-year data set. The previous high was $345,000, in 2007. The peak for the year-to-date median price in 2015 was $329,000; 2016’s figure represents a 9.4 percent increase.

– The average days on the market in December was 121. That is the longest since April, when it was 125. Year over year, the 121 days is one fewer than the average days on the market in December 2015.

Perhaps the best word to describe the Bend real estate market, as the above numbers indicate, is dynamic — things are always evolving. And whether you are considering selling your home or are investigating the possibility of buying, I can help. My knowledge of the Bend market and my attention to your needs will help produce an outcome that leaves you more than satisfied. To get started with listing your Bend home or to view area homes, contact me at (541) 383-1426, or visit Bend Property Search to connect with me through my website.