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For the first time in six years, sellers’ asking prices tracked by the Department of Numbers Website have gone positive on a year-to-year basis, another sign that the housing economy is slowly healing itself.

Sellers’ asking prices nationally first showed a positive year-over-year gain in December, and increased to 3.9 percent as of March 5.

“I wanted to see January’s data follow suit lest I prematurely announce a sign change only to have it reverse direction the following month. Of course there’s nothing that precludes that even with two months of positive Y/Y numbers, but it does tell me that the housing market is slowly healing itself,” wrote Ben Engebreth, an independent programmer and data analyst who operates the site.

As of March 5, 2012 there were about 858,688 single family and condo homes listed for sale in the 54 metro areas Engebreth tracks. The median asking price of these homes was estimated to be $224,322.2. Since this time last year, the inventory of homes for sale has decreased by 20.5 percent and the median price has increased by 3.9 percent.

“The Y/Y inventory decline of roughly 15 percent (which puts it at an all-time low for the series) offers additional supporting evidence. That’s not to say that we’ll be returning to rapid price appreciation any time soon; I certainly don’t foresee that,” Engebreth wrote.

The median asking price for homes in the U.S. peaked in June 2006 at $319,459 and is now $95,137 (29.8 percent) lower. From a low of $211,844 in January 2011, the median asking price in the US has increased by $12,477 (5.9 percent).

In its January data, REALTOR.com, the massive listings site which also tracks asking prices, reported list prices were up 3.69 percent on the year in the 146 metros it covers. The site reported the top four markets in terms of year over year increases were all in Florida: Miami (up 32.75 percent), Fort Myers-Cape Coral (up 21 percent), Punta Gorda (up 19.33 percent), and West Palm Beach (up 18.60 percent). Inventory was down 23.20 percent on the year.

For more information, visit www.realestateeconomywatch.com.

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