Sales of single family and multifamily homes across the Triangle fell 19 percent in December compared to a year earlier, the Wake County market being hit hardest.

As the nation’s housing market woes continued to deepen in the final days of 2007 with existing sales off 20 percent from 2006 through Nov. 30, the malaise deepened in Wake, Durham, Johnston and Orange counties, according to data compiled by the Triangle Multiple Listing Service.

The number of units sold in December dipping to 2,055 compared to 2,537 in December of 2006.

In Wake County, sales dropped 22 percent from 2006 to 1,144 units.

John Wood, president elect of the Raleigh regional Association of REALTORS, acknowledged that the market has slowed, but he also said the numbers are misleading.

“Clearly, 2006 was a banner year,” said Wood, who also is owner of REMAX Partners in Raleigh. “2007’s numbers have tailed off and they seem dramatic, but in reality they are not as dramatic as you would be led to believe.”

Wood also noted that interest rates for 30-year mortgages have fallen below 6 percent and that traffic of potential buyers is up.

“2008 appears to be promising,” he said. “The number of buyers we have seen in the marketplace in the first 15 days of January are very good.”

Mortgages also are readily available for people with “fair to good credit,” he added.

But a possible uptick in the market didn’t start as 2007 drew to a close. The December sales rate dropped 2 percentage points from the 17 percent decline reported in November. Sales dipped 15 percent in October from the previous year. Statewide, the North Carolina Association of Realtors reported a 19 percent drop in existing home sales compared to November of 2006. December statistics are not yet available.

The average price of homes sold in Wake County also fell last month, slipping more than $6,000 to $252,981 compared to 2006.

Home sale values actually increased in Durham by $2,200, in Johnston by more than $9,000 and in Orange by more than $44,000.

Overall, the average value of homes sold increased slightly to $237,628, up $1,129 compared to the same month in 2006.

However, the number of homes sold dipped in each county from 2006 totals – down 10 percent to 290 in Durham, down 7 percent to 202 in Johnston and down 16 percent in Orange to 105.

For complete details and more statistics, see the Web link to the Triangle MLS Web site.