Real Estate

Home prices rise for first time in 18 months: RE/MAX

For the first time in 18 months, home prices increased year-over-year in February, a turnaround that RE/MAX said signifies a “very active selling season.”

A RE/MAX housing survey released Wednesday shows national home prices in February rose 1.1% from a year earlier and 1.4% from January to $171,881.

Of the 53 metro areas included in the survey, 24 experienced price increases from February 2011, including: Miami (20.5%), Orlando, Fla. (15.8%), Phoenix (12.5%), Tampa, Fla. (11.1%), St. Louis (9.8%) and Detroit (8.9%).

Home sales in February rose 8.7% from a year earlier, continuing a trend of eight straight months above the previous year’s total. February home sales climbed 8.1% above sales in January.

Of the metros, 45 saw increases over February 2011, with 26 jumping double digits, including: Albuquerque, N.M. (46.6%), Providence, R.I. (36.7%), Raleigh, N.C. (33.8%), Boston (30.5%) and Chicago (27.5%).

“All the data is pointing to a very active spring and summer selling season this year, which is great news for a recovering housing market,” RE/MAX Chief Executive Margaret Kelly said. “As sales numbers have trended higher for several months, we have been anticipating a turnaround in home prices, and it looks like it’s finally starting.”

Analysts at Barclays Capital on Monday said the homebuilder spring selling season has “arrived strongly enough to kick-start a positive feedback loop in housing for the first time since 2005.”

Properties sold in February stood on the market for an average of 103 days, the same as in January and a year earlier, according to RE/MAX findings. In the last 12 months, the average fell below 90 in only two months — 88 in both July and September.

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