September 19, 2012 (Chris Moore)

The inventory of homes for sale in the United States fell for the second consecutive month in August while home sellers began dropping their asking prices following the end of the summer selling season according to the latest housing data of 146 metro areas released by

Total listings of existing homes for sale fell 1.20 percent from July with a total of 1,843,736 single-family homes, condos, townhomes, and co-ops were listed for sale in August compared to 1,866,075 in July. The total number of homes listed for sale was 18.68 percent lower than a year ago.

The median list price for an existing home in August was $190,000, down 2.51 percent from $194,900 in July, and only 0.05 percent higher than in August 2011.

The Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Lompoc, CA, area showed the greatest improvement in year-over-year list prices for the third consecutive month in August. List prices in the area are up 38.96 percent over August of last year. The Phoenix-Mesa, AZ, area held on to the second spot for another month with a 25.00 percent increase from a year ago.

San Francisco moved up from the fourth spot to third with a 16.97 percent annual increase followed by San Jose with a 16.10 percent year-over-year increase with Boise City rounding out the top five with an annual increase of 13.71 percent.

The Peoria-Pelkin, IL, area posted the largest year-over-year decline in median list prices for the third consecutive month, falling 10.35 percent behind last year followed by the Charleston, WV, area which saw list prices in their area fall 9.03 percent in the last year.

Rounding out the bottom five was Toledo, OH, with an 8.61 percent decline, followed by the Fort Wayne, IN, area with a 6.83 percent decline and the Trenton, NJ, area where annual list prices declined by 5.70 percent.

List prices are not necessarily indicative of selling prices, but may signal market sentiment by sellers. All together, 101 of the areas saw an increase in list prices, down from 102 the previous month.

The average number of days that an existing home spent on the market increased to 91 in August from 88 in July but was still down from 103 days in August of last year. Thirty-four out of the 146 metropolitan areas required 100 days or more to sell a home, up from 27 in July.

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, unchanged from the previous month. Residents in Oakland had the shortest wait for the 11th consecutive month, averaging 20 days on the market, down from 22 days the previous month.

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