While the median national list price rose by only a modest amount in March, all indicators suggest that a broad-based housing recovery is beginning to take hold across the nation as a whole. List prices are appreciating at a year-over-year basis in more than 100 of the 146 markets tracked by Realtor.com and nearly all are within reach of achieving positive year-over-year price growth by the end of the year. A successful spring market could move the entire nation into the black.
The recovery is broadening and reaching smaller markets and markets that still have significant foreclosure inventories and local employment problems. Of the 146 markets tracked by Realtor.com, only 42 still report negative year-over-year prices compared to 63 in December. Prices rose in all by three of these markets in March.
List prices are down more than 5 percent in only six of Realtor.com’s 146 markets: Roanoke VA, Akron OH, Dayton-Springfield OH, Springfield IL, Columbia MO and Peoria-Pekin IL.
While the number of markets experiencing year-over-year list price declines increased in the second half of 2012, this pattern appears to have turned around in the past three months. Since the beginning of the year, a growing number of markets have experienced a YOY increase in their list price, while a declining number have experienced a YOY list price decline. These patterns suggest that 2013 could well see a broad-based recovery of the housing market.
Inventories on Realtor.com continue to be down significantly on a year-over-year basis (-15.22%). The size of the for-sale inventory is now roughly half of its 2007 peak. These historically low inventories set the stage for continued broad-based recovery and the change over from buyers’ to sellers’ market.
Realtor.com reported the total U.S. for-sale inventory of single family homes, condos, townhomes and co-ops remained at near-record lows in March, with 1,529,432 units for sale. While the inventory was down by 15.22 percent compared to a year ago, the national inventory increased for the second month in a row, growing by 2.35 percent in March.
The national median age of the inventory fell to just 78 days in March, down by 20.41 percent over the month and by 12.35 percent on a year-over-year basis. The sudden decline in the age of listings indicates that volumes of new listings are flooding into markets across the nation in preparation for the spring season.
The net increase in listings coupled with the 20 percent decline in the median age of listings suggests that seller confidence is responding to higher prices and positive price forecasts.