Home/Mortgages/Housing Inventory Nudges Up in February after 8 Months of Declines

March 15, 2012 (Chris Moore)

The inventory of available homes for sale in the United States increased less than one percent in February, the first increase in nine months, while the average number of days a home stayed on the market fell for the second consecutive month according to the latest housing data of 146 metro areas released by Realtor.com.

Total listings of existing homes increased 0.54 percent from January with a total of 1,778,237 single-family homes, condos, townhomes, and co-ops listed for sale in February compared to 1,768,663 in January. The number of homes listed for sale in February was 22.02 percent lower than a year ago.

The median list price for an existing home in February was $188,000, up 1.34 percent from $185,500 in January, and 6.82 percent higher than in February 2011.

Florida continued to dominate the list of metropolitan areas with the largest year-over-year increase in median list prices with seven of the ten best performing areas residing in that state. Miami was at the top for the fourth consecutive month, posting a 26.19 percent gain, followed by the Phoenix-Mesa area, which posted a gain of 20.62 percent.

The Punta-Gorda area retained the third spot during the month with a 19.35 percent year-over-year gain followed by the West Palm Beach-Boca Raton area at 18.48 percent with the Washington D.C. area rounding out the top five with an 18.45 percent annual gain.

Seven other areas in Florida experienced double-digit gains in their annual list prices which included Naples (+15.67%), Fort Myers-Cape Coral (+15.59%), Daytona Beach (+15.56%), Sarasota-Bradenton (+14.47%), Lakeland-Winter Haven (+12.96%), Central Florida RSA (+10.67%) and Ft. Lauderdale (+10.00%).

Chicago posted the largest year-over-year decline in median list prices for the second consecutive month, falling 7.41 percent from a year ago followed by Knoxville which saw list prices in the area fall 5.41 percent.

Rounding out the top five was Orange County CA, with a 5.35 percent decline, followed by Sacramento and the Los Angeles-Long Beach area where annual list prices declined by 5.00 and 4.13 percent, respectively.

A total of 24 of the 146 metropolitan areas in the survey registered double digit increases in year-over-year listing prices. Although there were four more areas this month than last that posted double digit increases in listing prices, the percentage of increase in list prices was smaller this month while the percentage of decline in prices was also smaller. List prices are not necessarily indicative of selling prices, but may signal market sentiment by sellers.

The average number of days that an existing home spent on the market fell to 111 in February from 119 days in January and was down from 123 days in February of last year. Eighty-eight out of the 146 metropolitan areas required 100 days or more to sell a home, down from 106 in January.

Residents selling their homes in the southern region of South Carolina continued to wait the longest to sell their homes, averaging 179 days on the market, down from 190 days the previous month. Residents in Oakland had the shortest wait for the fifth consecutive month, averaging 32 days on the market, down from 45 days the previous month.

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