Most key housing markets are in recovery mode, but industrialized areas plagued with falling employment numbers continue to deal with distressed assets, Realtor.com, the website run by Move Inc., said in a new September survey of U.S. housing markets.
List prices are still below 2007 peaks, but areas such as California, Seattle and Phoenix are experiencing a recovery while parts of the Midwest and Northeast deal with a lack of jobs and declining manufacturing sectors.
Housing inventory across the U.S. remained at historic lows with only 1.8 million units up for sale in September.
The median list price is slightly higher than a year ago, coming in at $191,500, and the median age of the inventory has fallen by 11.21%.
"Lower inventories, combined with somewhat higher median list prices, suggest that the housing market ending the 2012 home-buying season is in better shape than it was a year ago," Realtor.com said.
The total number of listings, which stands at 1.8 million, is now down 17.7% from last year and 2.19% from August. Today, inventory is staying on the market 95 days on average, which is up from August but down significantly from last year.
With areas such as the Midwest and industrialized cities remaining the hardest hit areas, the housing problem is beginning to look more like a jobs problem based on data released in the report.
"These patterns suggest that the underlying nature of the country's housing problems has changed," Realtor.com said. "What began as a collapse of a housing bubble fueled by poor underwriting and toxic mortgage products has evolved into a housing recession that primarily reflects continued weaknesses in local economies."
The report's findings suggest that as economists mull over the housing economy, the lackluster jobs recovery — or areas with drying economic activity — are what is driving the remaining depressed markets.