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Listing Inventory Hits 5-Year Low

May 17, 2012 at 1:37 PM   |   Comments

The national for-sale inventory of single family homes, condos, townhomes and co-ops fell to the lowest level since 2007 in April, providing further evidence that the inventory draw down is continuing into the spring home buying season.

On a year-over-year basis, the total number of listings on Realtor.com was down by 18.85 percent, declining in all but five of the 146 markets covered by the megasite, a sign that the overall market is in a stronger position than it was one year ago. Since the beginning of the year, the total size of the inventory has ranged from about 1.76 to 1.84 million units, the lowest levels observed since Realtor.com began collecting these data in January 2007.

While Florida markets dominated the list of top ten MSAs with the largest year-over-year declines in their for-sale inventories one year ago, the list now includes major California markets, as well as Phoenix, Seattle and Atlanta—suggesting that these markets, which have been relatively slow to recover, may be beginning to turn around. The five markets registering an increase in their for-sale inventory in April reported very small increases.

The median age of the inventory also fell by 11.5 percent on a year-over-year basis, from 95 days in April 2011 to 84 days in April 2012, while the median list price ($191,211) remained essentially unchanged. Lower inventories, combined with lower shorter time on market and relatively stable listing prices, could be indicative of the kind of balanced housing market that has not seen in many years. The median age of the inventory exceeded 120 days in just 6 markets in April, down from 16 markets in March, 34 markets in February and 46 markets in January. Most of the markets with the oldest inventories are resort communities, particularly in Florida and the Carolinas.

The nationwide median list price for single family homes, condos, townhomes and co-ops was $191,211 in April, up from $188,900 in March and essentially the same as it was one year ago ($191,900). The relative stability in listing prices over the past 12 months stands in stark contrast to the significant declines that occurred in the fall of 2010, when the after effects of the after the tax credit came to a close. While higher list prices do not always translate into higher sales prices, the stability observed in since the beginning of the 2011 home buying season may nevertheless signal a growing optimism on the part of sellers that the market has is beginning to turn around.

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