South Florida continues to push forward in a ranking of the most stable housing markets nationwide.
The tri-county region scored 88.1 onFreddie Mac's Multi-Indicator Market Index for December, up 15 percent from a year earlier.
The index tracks mortgage applications, employment, delinquencies and affordability for the top 100 metro areas across the country. A composite score of at least 80 is considered stable. A perfect score is 100.
South Florida reached the 80 benchmark last May for the first time since 2008.
Of the top 100 metros, the three-county area ranked 24th, rising 22 spots from a year earlier. The national housing score was 82.7.
"This is good news for the nation's housing market, but there is certainly more work to be done," Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist for Freddie, said in a statement.
Some analysts are concerned that flat wage growth in recent years combined with rising home prices will make homes less affordable in South Florida and across the country in 2016.
But the job market has been mostly solid in South Florida and that "should eventually lead to some income growth, which will offset the affordability challenges," Kiefer said.
January figures released last week by local Realtor boards showed annual increases in sales and median prices of existing homes in Palm Beach and Broward counties. Still, sales fell in Miami-Dade County, and real estate agents say the market has slowed across South Florida, with homes taking longer to sell and sellers having to reduce prices to attract buyers.
"The market is not as frenzied," said Beverly Rothstein, an agent in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
"Sellers got overly confident and were pricing their homes a bit more than what they should have been. And buyers are looking at more of a selection of properties, and they're not jumping at the first house they see. They have other options now."
Austin, Texas had the nation's most stable housing market in December at 98.1, according to Freddie. Denver was No. 2 at 98.3.
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