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Solid February Gains Point to Seller Optimism

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sellers_for_sale_signAs prices continue to rise, more sellers are putting their homes on the market than this time last year, according to Realtor.com®’s recently released National Housing Trend Report for February 2014. This movement is a sign of confidence in the gains sustained through the winter and an indication of a strong early beginning to the spring home buying season.

Data from realtor.com® reveals the number of properties for sale in February rose 10.1 percent above February 2013 levels, to 1,744,032 units. The median list price at $199,000 increased 7.6 percent compared to the same month last year, and the median age of inventory increased 6.5 percent above year-ago figures, to 114 days.

“Overall these figures indicate a continued reinforcement of steady gains and market stabilization that we’ve been watching since late last summer,” says Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Move. “Seller confidence is the factor to watch as we head into the spring home buying season, and these are very encouraging indicators – not only are more homes coming onto the market, but typically we don’t see a rise in asking prices this early into the year. This is the market these sellers have been waiting for.”

Many have speculated that as homeowners gained equity across 2013, sellers otherwise prevented from making ‘life event’ associated housing changes, for various reasons such as births, children entering school, aging home owners downsizing to smaller residences and others, now are finally able to tap into the resources necessary to make those changes. The increase in inventory is even more noteworthy given the severe climate conditions that likely dampened a more typical month of listing activity across much of the nation.

National Perspective

· Widespread inventory increases: Nationally, inventories in February were 10.1 percent higher than they were one year ago. 99 of the 146 markets tracked by realtor.com saw year-over-year gains in inventory in February; of those, 63 markets rose by ten percent or more. The added supply does not appear to be impacting price gains; just eight markets of those with inventory gains registered declines in median list price year over year, none greater than 6.1 percent. Broad inventory gains in more than half the markets in February are strong signs of a far healthier inventory than the previous year.

· List prices rise in advance of the buying season: Despite the increase in inventory, the median list price jumped by more than 2 percent in February to $199,000, 7.6 percent higher than it was one year ago. These list price increases are another sign of seller confidence going into the selling season, as sellers price their homes in anticipation of market conditions in the coming months. While annual gains in list price were widespread, they also were fairly modest throughout much of the country; of the 121 markets that posted year-on-year gains in median list price in February, 84 markets rose less than 10 percent. These modest increases are positive signs of a more balanced market overall heading into the spring season.

· Days on market grow slightly: Along with the notable uptick in inventory and median list price in February, median age of inventory gained 6.5 percent in February compared to year-ago levels, to 114 days. 93 of the markets tracked by realtor.com saw increases in time on market in February; of those, 21 markets increased time on market by 20 percent or more. 45 markets still registered year-over-year declines in age of inventory in February 2014, with 8 markets dropping more than 10 percent compared to year-ago levels.

Local Market Highlights

· In the California markets that became overheated last spring, inventories have bounced back. Stockton has twice as many homes listed on realtor.com than they had a year ago. Fresno, Bakersfield, Riverside and Oakland all report year over year increases of 40 percent or more on the numbers of homes for sale.

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