Home prices in Michigan closed out 2012 with solid gains, according to a prominent industry report released Tuesday.
Property values increased 6.8 percent from December 2011, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, the most substantial year-over-year gain since July 2006.
In Washtenaw County, home values increased by 8.3 percent from December 2011, according to the Ann Arbor Board of Realtors.
The report shows that sales of residential properties were up 9.2 percent, and the average sale price was $210,616. Dollar volume for the year was up 19.2 percent, reflecting the increased market activity and higher sale prices in the county. Sales of condos were up 12.7 percent from 2011 as well.
"A lot of agents had the best year of their career last year," said Rick Taylor, a real estate agent with Reinhart Realtors in Chelsea.
Taylor said he sold 51 houses totaling $8.1 million in western Washtenaw County last year.
Near-historic low mortgage rates coupled with a strengthening labor market continues to drive housing demand Taylor said, helping push home prices upward as the inventory of homes for sale dwindles and the flow of foreclosures slows.
"It's a seller's market. What we're seeing is a lot of buyers and hardly any sellers," he said. "Right now the available housing inventory in the county is the lowest its been in the 11 years I've been in business."
Taylor said a lot of homeowners are still scared to list their property partly because of the housing crash in 2008 and partly due to a local economic recession that occurred in the county in 2006 after Pfizer closed its doors.
"Houses that fell in value are slowly creeping up again, and sellers don't know about it," he said.
Kathy Toth of Keller Williams Realty in Dexter said she too is seeing high demand for houses in the county.
"In Dexter we're down from six months of inventory to three months, and houses listed for up to $100,000 in Ann Arbor are flying off of the shelf," she said. "Every listing has had multiple offers submitted to the bank.
"It's an unbelievable opportunity for the market right now, we just need the houses."
Taylor agreed, stating, "Buyers are dying for houses to be listed by realtors. Agents across the county are scrambling to get listings. Now is the time to sell your home, don't wait until May."