Most U.S. housing markets are stable or in recovery with a few industrial areas still battling high unemployment and a weak real estate market, according to Move Inc.

Data from August shows inventory levels on a downward trajectory and prices beginning to stabilize.

Last month, the nation had 1.84 million single-family, condo and townhome listings, down 18.68% from a year earlier and 1.2% lower from last month.

The median list price in August hit $190,000, which is up one-half a percentage point from 2011, but still a 2.51% drop from the previous month. 

The real estate recovery technically began in markets like Florida a year ago and spread across the nation reaching areas such as Seattle.

The for-sale inventory declined in 146 markets surveyed by Realtor.com, growing only in Shreveport, La., and Philadelphia.

But older, industrialized areas like Philadelphia, which saw its median list price drop 5% year-over-year in August, continue to struggle. 

“A growing number of older industrialized areas are showing signs of weakness, and the gains observed earlier in the 2012 home-buying season in many markets appear to be moderating,” Realtor.com said.

Industrialized markets never experienced a run up in market prices before the housing meltdown, yet local economic factors continue to push prices lower.

Home prices in Toledo, Ohio, fell 8.61% over last year in August while Chicago and Trenton, N.J., saw prices for the same period drop 5% and 5.66%, respectively.

Seattle is the polar opposite of Philadelphia this year even though prices in the Northwest city experienced a steeper decline last year.

This year, Seattle prices rose 12.2% from last year after declining 7.26% in August 2011. The difference is Seattle had fewer real estate listings, which led to more demand than supply, lifting the market.

“Philadelphia, on the other hand, had only -3.91% fewer homes for sale. Seattle has zoomed to Realtor.com’s top 10 in terms of annualized price increases, up 12.51% in a year, and its median age of inventory is 50 days, down -32.43%,” Realtor.com said. 

“Philadelphia, on the other hand, is experiencing a decline in median list prices, falling -2.51% compared to August 2011, and has a median age of inventory of 102 days.”

kpanchuk@housingwire.com

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