“As we enter the busiest time of the year for home buyers and sellers, our latest housing trend data shows just how competitive the market is with a significant national housing recovery well underway,” said Steve Berkowitz, chief executive officer of Move, Inc. “Looking ahead, we can expect the amount of inventory to increase this spring along with higher list prices as sellers become more comfortable with the market conditions.”
The median age of inventory was down by 9.26 percent month over month and total listings are up 1.15 percent month over month, suggesting that many reluctant home sellers are starting to take an early advantage of the recent improvements in housing prices. Annual inventory decreases of -15.97 percent are consistent with a gradual, yet persistent downward trend that has been occurring over the last two years. From January 2013 to February 2013, the median age of inventory decreased in 145 of the 146 markets tracked by realtor.com®. The national median list price also reversed its downward trend, rising by 1.55 percent over the month of February and 1.01 percent on an annual basis. In addition, the number of markets experiencing a decline in home prices is shrinking, implying more good news for the housing market and U.S. economy at large.
There continue to be pronounced regional differences in the strength of the housing market. Several areas in California are experiencing the highest increases in list prices coupled with the largest inventory declines. Phoenix, Seattle and Denver are also among the top performers across the U.S. However, many smaller industrialized markets in the Midwest and the Northeast registered year-over-year price declines, as did Philadelphia, Chicago and New York City. While the number of markets experiencing year-over-year list price declines had been increasing, this pattern appears to be turning around as home list prices increased in 78 markets last month on a year-over-year basis and declined in 39.
• In February, the total number of single-family homes, condos, townhomes and co-ops for sale in the U.S. (1,494,218) increased by 1.15 percent month-over-month. On an annual basis, however, inventory was down by 15.97 percent.
• The national median list price for single-family homes, condos, townhomes and co-ops ($189,900) increased by 1.01 percent year-over-year and 1.55 percent month-over-month in February.
• The median age of inventory of for sale listings fell to 98 days in February, down 9.26 percent from January and 11.71 percent below the median age one year ago (February 2012).
• Nearly all of the markets with the largest year-over-year declines in their for sale inventories in February were in California, where declines averaged 48 percent. The list includes Sacramento, Stockton, Oakland, San Jose, Orange County, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Riverside and Ventura. These markets also experienced a dramatic decline in the median age of inventory, falling to an average of just 31 days, or 53 percent lower than it was one year ago.
• On an annual basis, February median list prices were up by 5 percent or more in 51 markets while they were down by more than 5 percent in 11 markets. The number of markets experiencing a year-over-year list price decline in February (39) is significantly below the number of declines observed in January (50). California markets continue to dominate the list of areas experiencing the largest year-over-year increases in their median list prices, representing nine out of the top ten best performers.
• The ten markets with the longest time on the market continued to include the coastal areas of the Carolinas and the resort communities of Santa Fe, NM and Ashville, NC. In addition, five older industrialized areas also appear on the list: Reading, PA; Portland, ME; Albany, NY; Philadelphia and Trenton, NJ. California markets continued to dominate the list of top ten areas with the shortest time on the market, although the median age of inventory was also at record lows in Denver and Seattle. Median time on market in these areas averaged just 28 days, 51 percent lower compared to one year ago.