Realtor.com listing data for February suggest buyers are getting an early start to the 2013 home buying season despite the bad weather in many parts of the country and inventories that are still at record lows. Sellers are finally responding to the positive market by replenishing depleted inventories.
On a national basis, the average time homes spend for sale is declining even as inventories of homes listed for sale are growing. The average home now spends less than 100 days on Realtor.com. That’s the fastest average time in for a listing to spend in our inventory since October. The average age of inventory fell nearly ten percent from January to February, a sign that homes are selling faster before the spring season begins in earnest-or that recent listings are a greater share of listings inventories.
While the median age of the inventory is highly seasonal, the year-over-year age of inventory fell to 11.71% below the median age one year ago (February 2011). This decline is consistent with a gradual, but persistent downward trend that has been occurring for the past two years.
The decline in the median time listings are on Realtor.com is widespread. Age of inventory fell in all but one of the 146 markets Realtor.com tracks, even in Midwestern and Northeastern markets that experienced heavy snowstorms and cold temperatures in February.
The Realtor.com data showing an early surge of demand confirms reports from Realtors that foot traffic was higher than normal in January. Both signs suggest that sales this spring are likely to be even stronger than they were last year, when early spring sales were atypically strong.
The national median list price also reversed its recent downward trend, rising by 1.55 percent over the month and 1.01 percent on an annual basis. And while list prices continue to decline in many smaller industrialized markets in the Midwest and North East, the number of markets experiencing a decline is beginning to turn around, spelling more good news for the housing market and the US economy at large.