Whether to buy or sell may not be clear following recent housing indicators, which offered contradictory points of view. But Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at realtor.com, says the residential real estate market continued to show strong signs of health in July.

According to realtor.com’s ‘Advance Read of July Trends,’ which draws on residential inventory and demand trends over the first three weeks of the month, the prevailing positive price trend continues with the national median list price increasing to $234,000, up 7% year-over-year and 1% over June. Median days on market increased to 69 days, down 7% year over year, but up 5% month over month. 

“It’s typical to see a slackening in the pace of market activity during this time of year, due to back to school and the dog days of summer,” Smoke said. “Increasing median days-on-market suggests the market is finding more of a balance, but demand is still strong. This bodes well for more moderate price appreciation in the months ahead.” 

Over the last couple weeks, there have been reports that existing home sales are up (3.2% month over month), new home sales are down (-6.8% month over month), and pending home sales are down (-1.8% month over month) and up (8% year over year) – which has resulted in a lot of confusion.

“We have reviewed the data and taking into account less than perfect seasonal adjustment techniques at a very seasonal time for housing and the differing baseline metrics used in the various indicators, we’re comfortable that the market remains strong despite of these recent mixed signals,” stated Smoke.

The 20 hottest markets in the countryin July, ranked by number of views per listing on realtor.com and the median age of inventory in each market, follow.

Click to enlarge

(Source: realtor.com)

California’s tight supply and economic-powered growth in demand continues to dominate the hottest markets. In particular, California’s Yuba City benefited from the strength of Northern California’s housing market, making its first showing in the top 20, coming in at number 14 this month, up from number 23 in June.    

Yuba City looks like a classic California “spill over market” story, Smoke said, adding, “The city stands out with one attribute most of California lacks — affordability.”  According to realtor.com data, it is the fifth-least expensive market out of California’s 23 metros analyzed, with a strong supply of affordable housing.

Texas also remains strong for hottest markets with four of the country’s most-searched MSAs. Midland continues to gain strength, rising 10 spots to number 7 from June to July and up from number 34 in May.

Midland is still benefiting from years of economic growth driven by the oil industry. However, new construction has declined and the median list price trends are negative. The market’s sudden rise could be fueled by sellers becoming eager to move inventory, leading to a faster-moving market, said Smoke.