By Steve Cook
National median list prices have been on the rise since the beginning of the year and now stand at $195,000, up 2.68 percent on a year-over-year basis, according to the June REALTOR.com® Trend Data released recently. Of 146 markets covered by REALTOR.com®, while list prices increased in 101 markets, held steady in 26 markets, and declined in just 19 markets.
Sustained, record low inventories have been driving improving prices. The national median age of the inventory dropped to 84 days in June, down -9.67 percent on an annual basis and the size of REALTOR.com® ‘s inventory of homes for sale was 19.35 percent below a year ago. In June 2011, median list prices were down 1 percent or more on an annual basis in 79 of the 146 markets covered by Realtor.com.
The nationwide median list price in June rose to $195,000. While list prices remained relatively constant throughout the 2011 home buying season, they have been rising steadily for the past five months, suggesting a growing optimism on the part of sellers. While list prices are below their peak of about $250,000 in early 2007–when REALTOR.com® began tracking data–the recent upward trend is a positive sign and serves as a leading indicator of future increases in housing prices. On a year-over-year basis, June median list prices were up by 1 percent or more in 101 of 146 MSAs, and up by 5 percent or more in 49 MSAs.
The national for-sale inventory was slightly higher (0.52 percent) than it was in May but down -19.35 percent on an annual basis. Similar to the rising list prices this year, the consistent year-over-year declines in inventory is another positive sign that the overall market is in a stronger position than a year ago. Since the beginning of 2012, total inventory has averaged about 1.8 to 1.9 million units, the lowest levels since January 2007. For sale inventories in June declined on an annual basis in all but 3 of the 146 MSAs monitored by REALTOR.com®, with for-sale inventory dropping 20 percent or more in 67 of the 146 markets covered. While the rate of decline has moderated over the past few months, this pattern suggests the majority of markets are working through their excess inventories.
The median age of the inventory of for sale listings was 84 days in June, roughly the same as the past three months, but 9.67 percent below the median age one year ago (June 2011). While the median age of the inventory is highly seasonal, the year-over-year decline is consistent with other data showing a significant improvement in market conditions compared to one year ago.
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