Housing inventories increased in August and stood just 2.5% below their levels of a year ago, offering the latest sign that more sellers are testing the market after swift home-price gains over the past year.
Nationally, there were 1.98 million homeslisted for sale in August, according to a report released Thursday by Realtor.com. That was up by more than 24% from the low point in February and up 1% from July. Inventories have increased for six straight months.
While the overall level of homes for sale remains relatively depressed, the report suggests that inventory may have hit a bottom earlier this year after an extended two-year decline.
The report also suggests that home-buyer traffic has eased following a period in which mortgage rates have jumped by more than one percentage point.
Inventories in nine of the nation’s top 30 housing markets were above their levels of last August, led by Los Angeles, where inventory was up by 17.4% from a year ago to its highest level since April 2012. Inventories in Atlanta were 13.9% above last year’s level. Other gains were reported in Orlando, Fla. (up 7.1%); Orange County, Calif. (6.9%); Miami (5.1%); Philadelphia (4.2%); and Phoenix (2.8%).
Listings stood 23.3% below last year’s levels in Detroit and were down by 20.1% in Boston, 17.9% in Denver and San Diego, and 14.8% in Dallas.
Median asking prices nationally were unchanged from July at $199,900, which represented a 6% increase from a year earlier. Asking prices were below last year’s level in Cleveland, but they were unchanged or up from a year ago in every other major market.
Half of all homes listed in August had been on the market for less than 92 days, up from 85 in July and 79 in May, but still below the median market time of 100 days last year.
The Realtor.com figures include sale listings from more than 800 multiple-listing services across the country. They don’t cover all homes for sale, including those that are “for sale by owner” and newly constructed homes that aren’t always listed by the services.