Inventory was a huge player in 2012, with the total U.S. for-sale inventory falling 45% since its peak in 2007 to 1.674 million units for sale. The median age of the inventory dropped as well, down by 11.4% since November 2011. These numbers indicate supply-and-demand playing a big role moving into 2013, at least for the first half of the year.
As the prices of homes start to increase more and more people will be underwater on their mortgages allowing more home owners to sell their current home and buy a different property.
As far as the fiscal cliff, Richard Green, director of USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, says it is overhyped. He feels it is more of a slope than a cliff and will not change the real estate market much at all. He also feels that real estate inventory will start to even out as 2013 progresses.