This story was originally published in Builder.

While sales dropped slightly from a year ago, December capped off a 2017 of record home prices, speedy sales and low inventory, according to the January RE/MAX National Housing Report out Tuesday. (PRNewsFoto/RE/MAX Holdings, Inc.) (PRNewsFoto/RE/MAX Holdings, Inc.)

The median home price rose 8.1 percent year-over-year, with 50 of the report's 54 markets posting increases. At the same time, December sales dropped 3.3 percent from December 2016, with 39 markets reporting fewer transactions. Making sales harder was a Months Supply of Inventory of 3.7 which is the lowest December figure in the nine-year history of the report. That corresponds with a 14.6 percent decline in inventory, lengthening a streak of monthly declines that began in November 2008.

Also setting a report record for December was the speed of home sales: 57 days. That figured into an overall 2017 median for Days on Market of 52.5—nearly a week less than the 2016 median of 58.5 days.

Home buyers paid record prices in 2017, led by June's Median Price Sold of $245,000. Prices increased year-over-year in every month of 2017, with December marking the 21st consecutive month of year-over-year price increases dating back to April 2016.

"We see the median sales price of homes across the country rising every month, year-over-year, but the days on market and the supply of homes for sale hit record lows in December," said Adam Contos, RE/MAX Co-CEO. "If inventory keeps getting tighter across the country it'll be interesting to see how it might affect sales."

Of the 54 metro areas surveyed in December 2017, the overall average number of home sales decreased 2.5 percent compared to November 2017 and decreased 3.3 percent compared to December 2016. Fifteen of the 54 metro areas experienced an increase in sales year-over-year including, Trenton, N.J., +13.9 percent, Richmond, Va., +10.9 percent, Burlington, Vt., +8.1 percent, and Raleigh-Durham, N.C., +5.4 percent.

In December 2017, the median of all 54 measured metro Median Sales Prices was $232,500, up 3.1 percent from November 2017 and up 8.1 percent from December 2016. Only four metro areas saw a year-over-year decrease in Median Sales Price; Anchorage, Alaska, -6.5 percent, Wichita, Kan., -3.9 percent, Fargo, N.D., -1.8 percent, and Wilmington/Dover, Del., -.90 percent. Ten metro areas increased year-over-year by double-digit percentages, with the largest increases seen in San Francisco, +17.8 percent, Las Vegas, +17.1 percent, Seattle, +13 percent, and Boise, Idaho, +12.8 percent.

The average Days on Market for homes sold in December 2017 was 57 in the 54 measured markets, up three days from the average in November 2017, and down five days from the December 2016 average. The four metro areas with the lowest Days on Market were Omaha, Neb., and San Francisco at 27, Nashville, Tenn., at 31, and Seattle at 34. The highest Days on Market averages were in Augusta, Maine, at 122 and Chicago and Miami at 86. Days on Market is the number of days between when a home is first listed in an MLS and a sales contract is signed.

The number of homes for sale in December 2017 was down 14 percent from November 2017, and down 14.6 percent from December 2016 across the 54 measured markets. Based on the rate of home sales in December, the Months Supply of Inventory increased to 3.7 from November 2017 at 3.6, but decreased compared to December 2016 at 4.2. A six-month supply indicates a market balanced equally between buyers and sellers. In December 2017, 52 of the 54 metro areas surveyed reported a months supply at or less than 6.0, which is typically considered a seller's market. The metro areas that saw a months supply above 6.0, which is typically considered a buyer's market, were Augusta, Maine, at 9.5 and Miami at 8.7. The markets with the lowest Months Supply of Inventory continued to be in the west with San Francisco at 0.9, Seattle at 1.4, and Denver at 1.5.

This story was originally published in Builder.