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Spring housing inventory up 2.3%: NAR

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Housing inventory grew 2.3% in March, according to a report released Thursday on a website for real estate agents, powered by the National Association of Realtors. However, the same report suggested that spring demand could absorb a portion of that inventory. Realtor.com is the official housing website of NAR that pulls listings from multiple listing services all over the U.S. Every month, the company surveys up to 250 metropolitan areas and reports information regarding consumer trends, listing prices, active inventory counts, supply and demand indicators, among other things. The online marketplace reported Thursday that inventory currently sits 9.8% above the level in March 2010. At the same time, the number of households searching for housing is growing. "Compared to one year ago, the number of searches on the Realtor.com website was up by 15.1%," the website said. "The rate of growth in the number of searches exceeded the growth in the overall inventory (9.8%), suggesting that demand may be strengthening in relationship to overall supply." Freddie Mac too expects a strong spring homebuying season. The growing rate of inventory does seem to be slowing, the online marketplace said. In January the yearly comparative increase in home listings was 13% and in February it was 17.3%. The median age of housing inventory in March sat at 160 days, down 2.4% from February but up 40.4% from March 2010. RealtyTrac reported early Thursday that extended foreclosure processing time lines are directly influencing a downward trend in foreclosure activity across the country. Realtor.com reported the national median sale price March at $199,500, a quarter percent increase from February, yet a quarter percent decrease from one year prior. The Fort Myers-Cape Coral, Fla. metropolitan statistical area witnessed the greatest year-over-year increase in price, up 24.1%. Other markets in which the median price was significantly between March 2010 and March 2011 include Fort-Collins-Loveland, Colo. (up 6%); Columbia, Mo. (up 6%); Santa Fe, N.M. (4.8%); Miami, Fla. (up 4.6%); and the Virginia suburbs of Washington DC-VA (up 4.1%). Areas with the largest year-over-year declines in median list prices include Santa Barbara, Calif. (down 19.6%); Detroit, Mich. (down 13.8%); and Reno, Nev. (down 11.5%). Write to Christine Ricciardi. Follow her on Twitter @HWnewbieCR.

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