May 21, 2012 (Chris Moore)

The inventory of available homes for sale in the United States grew for the second consecutive but still remained well below last year’s levels according to the latest housing data of 146 metro areas released by Despite the huge drop in inventory from last year, list prices barely budged from last month and were actually lower than a year ago.

Total listings of existing homes increased 2.04 percent from March with a total of 1,840,803 single-family homes, condos, townhomes, and co-ops listed for sale in April compared to 1,804,040 in March. The total number of homes listed for sale was still 18.85 percent lower than a year ago.

The median list price for an existing home in April was $191,211, up 0.69 percent from $189,900 in March, but still 0.35 percent lower than in April 2011.

The Phoenix-Mesa, AZ, area continued their big comeback with the largest year-over-year price increase for the second consecutive month in April. Home prices in the area are up 25.01 percent over April of last year. Miami, which had held the top spot for the previous four months before Phoenix, had the second highest year-over-year gain of 15.06 percent.

Boise held on to the third slot for a second month with a 12.05 percent annual gain followed by Washington D.C. and the Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Lompoc area in California where home prices have increased 9.76 and 9.38 percent over the last year, respectively.

The Wilmington-Newark Delaware-Maryland area posted the largest year-over-year decline in median list prices, falling 9.09 percent from a year ago followed by Toledo which saw list prices in their area fall 8.61 percent.

Rounding out the bottom five was Chicago with an 8.01 percent decline, followed by Philadelphia and Reading Pennsylvania where annual list prices declined by 7.65 and 7.37 percent, respectively. Chicago had held the bottom spot on the list for the previous three months.

Only three of the 146 metropolitan areas in the survey registered double digit increases in year-over-year listing prices, down from 24 the previous month. List prices are not necessarily indicative of selling prices, but may signal market sentiment by sellers. All together, seventy-two of the areas saw an increase in list prices.

The average number of days that an existing home spent on the market fell to 84 in April from 89 in March and was down from 95 days in April of last year. Twenty-three out of the 146 metropolitan areas required 100 days or more to sell a home, down from 44 in March.

Residents selling their homes in the southern region of South Carolina continued to wait the longest to sell their homes, averaging 161 days on the market, down from 169 days the previous month. Residents in Oakland had the shortest wait for the seventh consecutive month, averaging 20 days on the market, down from 28 days the previous month.

Tags: housing inventory, listed homes, home prices, median sales price, average list price