Last week, Realtor.com released it's March 2011 Real Estate Data, which contained some hopeful statistics, suggesting it really might be spring for the nation's housing market. The season typically represents a high point for real estate traffic, and that tradition may strengthen this year as we emerge from the final throes of a particularly nasty three-year housing crisis.
Realtor.com's report noted a marked slowdown in some of the downward trends we've been seeing for ages. Among them:
- Housing inventories grew by 2.27 percent last month, and are now 9.75 percent above levels recorded during the same period last year. However, the silver lining is that the rate of increase is slowing significantly. In February, for example, the year-to-year increase in total listings was 17.33 percent.
- Median home values are rising, albeit not uniformly. The Southwest and Florida still have a long upward climb, but states like New Jersey for example, experienced a 6.04 percent gain in just one month! As it stands, the national median list price is now $199,500, slightly more than February's $199,000.
- Once again, the results are not uniform, but the average number of days that a property is listed before finding a buyer is also dropping. The median age of inventory continues to exceed 200 days in most of Florida and coastal communities like Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Ashville, North Carolina. But there's a lot of good news in California where cities like Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Jose are moving homes in well under 75 days.
Jill Kipnis, Realtor.com's Online PR Manager offers some insight:
"There are a number of things we can look at. Year over year trends reflect low interest rates, decreasing home prices, and improvement in the unemployment numbers. All of those things definitely play a role. Banks are also beginning to show some stability in loan criteria.What do you think? Do you find the latest housing numbers encouraging?
"If you look at the data, because the number of households searching for homes is growing, it can be inferred that many of those people are becoming more serious about purchasing. Tax refund checks are also imminent and depending on the chunk of change people receive, they can pay off debt, add to savings or contribute to a down payment."
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Ilyce R. Glink is the author of several books, including 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask and Buy, Close, Move In!. She blogs about money and real estate at ThinkGlink.com and The Equifax Personal Finance Blog, and is Chief Content Strategist at RealtyJoin.com, a community for real estate investors.