After slumping badly towards the end of the year, Triangle home sales ended 2010 down 7 percent compared to the previous year.
There were 20,674 homes sold during 2010 in Durham, Johnston, Orange and Wake counties, Triangle Multiple Listing Services data show. That total ranked eight best when compared to the last 16 years.
Home sales in the fourth quarter decreased 31 percent compared to the same period in 2009.
The steep declines in the fourth quarter are further evidence of how the market has struggled without the support of government incentives. During the same period in 2009, many buyers were rushing to take advantage of a first-time home buyer tax credit they thought would soon expire.
Most markets around the country have seen a sharp drop in sales activity since the tax credits expired last summer.
The housing market has also been hurt by ongoing uncertainty in the job market, which has prevented many people from making large purchases.
The Triangle ended the year with 11,555 homes for sale, an increase of 1 percent over the fourth quarter of 2009. But while the total number of homes for sale remained relatively flat, the mix of new and existing homes changed considerably.
The number of new homes for sale was down 14 percent while the number of existing homes on the market rose 6 percent.
A sizable number of people took their home off market during the fourth quarter. The number of listings where the status changed from active to expired rose 24 percent in the fourth quarter.
As sales have diminished, the length of time it takes for a home to sell has increased. The average days on the market was 109 in the fourth quarter, compared to 94 during the same period the year prior.
Sale numbers for at least the next five months are expected to continue to be skewed by the tax credits.
Real estate professionals will be watching closely to see what happens with inventory levels in the next several months.
There is currently a 10 month supply of housing in the Triangle based on the pace of sales in the fourth quarter.
Based on the annual rate of closings, the current supply is 7 months.