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Real estate listing prices are up, inventory is down – report

Seattle real estate signs, photo by AR McLin.

New housing report reveals an inventory drop

Housing inventories are down and list prices are up, according to real estate search site, Realtor.com. In September, the national inventory of homes for sale (single family homes, condos, townhouses and co-ops) dropped 3.27 percent from August and an astonishing 20 percent year over year. Additionally, the median list price rose 1.6 percent to $190,000 compared to one year ago- not a substantial jump, but a positive sign that it has not fallen.

Realtor.com suggests that “The significant decline in inventory from a year ago, when large numbers of unsold properties remained on the market following the expiration of the homebuyer’s tax credit, suggests for-sale inventories are returning to seasonal patterns and a better price picture may be in store in the months ahead. It may also be an indication that the six-month leveling of list prices has discouraged many homeowners from listing their homes until conditions improve.”

We would add that late last year, many banks put a self imposed foreclosure freeze as they were investigated by attorneys general and federal investigators for the robosigning scandal, a freeze which slowed foreclosures getting to the market for sale. Lending divisions have laid off employees and banks are tied up in litigation from every direction, and the shadow inventory has grown which likely accounts for a substantial portion of the inventory shift.

Cautious translation of data

Realtor.com was cautious in how the data is translated, saying in a statement, “While such developments can be viewed as encouraging, markets remain fragile and could easily begin to deteriorate with further weakening of the economy or increases in foreclosure rates.”

Pricing has remained steady (or stagnant, depending on your view) over the year, which Realtor.com says “masks the marked decline that began in August 2010 — when the impact of the homeowner tax credit effectively came to an end — and continued through the end of February 2011. While the national median list price rebounded in March and April of 2011, effectively erasing previous declines, it has remained essentially unchanged for the past six months.”

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. Jonathan Benya

    October 13, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Fragile indeed. Today also saw a report of a rise in delinquency rates according to Realty Trac, and I suspect the rise in foreclosures isn't far behind.

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