By Steve Cook
As of February 10, new listings tracked by Altos Research have ticked upwards for five consecutive weeks, suggesting the spring home buyer season will bring the strongest prices the nation has seen since the tax credit briefly stimulated demand two years ago.
At the end of January, most metro markets saw stable pricing and several are ticking up, as inventory dropped for the beginning of the year. Stable pricing in January, when prices can be expected to seasonally drop, points to a bullish start in the New Year, Altos notes. At the end of January, the national median home price as measured by the Altos 20-City Composite remained basically unchanged at $354,408 from $354,896 in December 2011. Altos Research uses metrics from active residential property listings.
Looking at the slower-turning 90-day rolling average, four markets saw an increase in price in January. The two markets with the largest increase include, Miami/Fort Lauderdale/Miami Beach and Phoenix/Mesa/Scottsdale, both with an increase of 2.5 percent.
In both December 2011 and January, 14 markets experienced a decrease in price. The biggest price decreases were seen in San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara (-2.6 percent), Cleveland/Elyria/Mentor (-2.5 percent), and San Diego/Carlsbad/San Marcos (-2.4 percent).
Four markets saw an increase in price in January, typically the weakest month for home prices. Broadly the Altos-20 City Composite national view was unchanged from December. The Miami/Fort Lauderdale/Miami Beach market has seen prices trending up. Prices were up 4.8 percent in December 2011 and 2.5 percent in January. The Las Vegas/Paradise market has seen similar movement. Prices have not increased at a rate as fast as in Miami/Fort Lauderdale/Miami Beach, but inventory has decreased significantly. January saw a 14.8 percent decrease from the prior month and between November and December 2011, inventory levels dropped a staggering 27.8 percent.
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