August 29, 2012 (Chris Moore)

The inventory of homes for sale in the United States fell for the first time in five months in July while the prices that sellers asked for their homes remained virtually unchanged from June according to the latest housing data of 146 metro areas released by

Total listings of existing homes for sale fell 1.09 percent from June with a total of 1,866,075 single-family homes, condos, townhomes, and co-ops were listed for sale in July compared to 1,886,690 in June. The total number of homes listed for sale was 19.26 percent lower than a year ago.

The median list price for an existing home in July was $194,900, down 0.05 percent from $195,000 in June, but still 2.63 percent higher than in July 2011.

The Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Lompoc, CA, area showed the greatest improvement in year-over-year list prices for the second consecutive month in July. List prices in the area are up 31.53 percent over July of last year. The Phoenix-Mesa, AZ, area had the second highest year-over-year gain of 27.67 percent.

Boise City followed with an annual increase of 16.77 percent with San Francisco and San Jose rounding out the top five with annual increases of 15.04 and 13.84 percent, respectively.

The Peoria-Pelkin, IL, area posted the largest year-over-year decline in median list prices for the second consecutive month, falling 5.03 percent from a year ago followed by the Tyler, TX, area which saw list prices in their area fall 4.57 percent.

Rounding out the bottom five was Toledo, OH, with a 4.35 percent decline, followed by the Philadelphia, PA-NJ, area with a 3.45 percent decline and the Fort Wayne, IN, area where annual list prices declined by 3.29 percent.

For the third consecutive month, none of the 146 metropolitan areas in the survey registered double digit declines in year-over-year listing prices. List prices are not necessarily indicative of selling prices, but may signal market sentiment by sellers. All together, 102 of the areas saw an increase in list prices, down from 113 the previous month.

The average number of days that an existing home spent on the market increased to 88 in July from 84 in June but was down from 97 days in July of last year. Twenty-seven out of the 146 metropolitan areas required 100 days or more to sell a home, up from 23 in June.

Residents selling their homes in the southern region of South Carolina continued to wait the longest to sell their homes, averaging 158 days on the market, up from 147 days the previous month. Residents in Oakland had the shortest wait for the tenth consecutive month, averaging 22 days on the market, down from 24 days the previous month.

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