Yearly housing inventory down 20%, home sales up
National home sales and median price listings in September rose from a year ago with the home inventory down about 20%, according to multiple reports Thursday. These positive signals were offset by a continued slight downward trend in home sales prices, down 3.3% from a year ago according to RE/MAX. But with home sales up, RE/MAX CEO Margaret Kelly said the hope is that sales price will follow. Of the 53 markets surveyed by the company, 17 saw yearly sales price increases, including Detroit (13.4%), Miami (8.4%) and Orlando, Fla. (7.8%). Home sales nationally went up 7.6% from September 2010 with increases in 44 of 53 markets, including Des Moines, Iowa, (31.3%) and Minneapolis (30.1%). Single-family home, condo, townhouse and co-op inventory was down 3.27% from August and down 20.09% from September last year, according to Realtor.com. This year-over-year decrease could mean a return to seasonal patterns and higher prices in the coming months, though markets are still fragile and could weaken in bad economic conditions. Data firm RealtyTrac said Wednesday that the decline in foreclosure filings may have hit bottom and that foreclosure activity will likely grow. The shrinking for-sale inventory could also be due to homeowners waiting to list their homes during a 6-month leveling of list prices. The year-over-year median list price was up 1.6% in September at $190,000. Markets in Florida saw significant reductions in inventories as well as rising median list prices, suggesting a measure of stability. Miami had the largest inventory reduction year-over-year at 49.31%, while the median list price in Fort Myers-Cape Coral, Fla., was up 34.46% from last year, the highest in the nation. The markets with the five largest yearly price increases were all in Florida. Chicago (11.56%), Las Vegas (11.05%) and Detroit (11.01%) saw the largest decreases in year-over-year median listing price. Detroit (3.33%) also saw the biggest monthly decline in median price. Write to Andrew Scoggin. Follow him on Twitter @ascoggin.