As a general rule, if you find that it takes more than 91 days to sell a house today, and if there are still plenty of homes sitting in the for-sale inventory compared with the year before, the likelihood is that prices in that market are bouncing back at a slower pace than the national norms.
If, on the other hand, houses in the area are selling fast – even as quickly as 30 or 40 days following listing – plus there’s a huge decline in real estate inventory for sale, that market is probably doing better than most others around the country and prices are moving up.
These conclusions emerge from an analysis of the latest monthly survey of 146 major markets conducted by Realtor.com, based on data supplied by hundreds of multiple listing services (MLSs) nationwide. Take Oakland, Calif. as a prime example. Though it gets minimal media attention compared with its flashy upscale neighbor across San Francisco Bay, Oakland is a statistical hot spot for real estate this year. Median list prices in Oakland are up 13.6 percent from August 2011, and are now at $385,000. But you’ll need to search extra hard to find the house you want to buy there – inventory is down by an astounding 58 percent year-over-year – and the median time a listed house stays on the market is just 20 days. The national median from listing to sale, by comparison, is 91 days and the median price is $190,000.
Denver is another example. Inventory is down 20 percent from year-ago levels and listings disappear in a median 36 days. Median list price is $267,000 – well above the national number – and prices are up nearly 7 percent. Phoenix, one of the hardest-hit cities during the bust, has roared back this year. Though many sales are still in the distressed category, median prices are through the roof – up 25 percent in the past 12 months. Inventory is down nearly 30 percent, and houses that are listed sell in a median 48 days.
Washington D.C. and its Virginia suburbs never took the deep price hits that Phoenix experienced during the recession, but the D.C. metropolitan area is outperforming during the rebound. Median list prices are up 5.4 percent, inventories down by almost 19 percent, and houses sell in a median 63 days.
Contrast vibrant cities like these with what you see among the underperformers, where it takes 110 days or more to sell a house, and where prices are stagnant or – in 37 of the 146 markets studied by Realtor.com – still on the decline. Most of the soft markets are spread along the Eastern seaboard and in the Midwest.
In Myrtle Beach, S.C., median selling time is 144 days and list prices have dropped 2.9 percent during the year. In Philadelphia and its New Jersey suburbs, median time to sale is 121 days and prices are 5 percent lower than a year ago. Even in a high-cost resort market like Naples, Fla., it still takes a median 132 days to sell a house.
Asheville, N.C. (111 days to sell, prices down 2 percent), Reading, Pa., (126 days, 3.2 percent price decline) and Ft. Pierce-St. Lucie, Fla. (120 days, prices down 1.3 percent) are all underperformers at the moment – well behind the national medians and way, way behind the rebound all-stars.
By Ken Harney
Ken Harney writes a nationally syndicated column on housing and mortgage issues, the Nation’s Housing, and has won numerous “Best Column – All Media” awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors, along with the Consumer Federation of America’s prestigious “Media Service Award,” for lifetime contributions to consumer interests in housing. He served a three year term on the Federal Reserve Board’s Consumer Advisory Council and is the author of two books on real estate and mortgage finance.
Taken from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/realtorcom/2012/09/19/two-key-real-estate-indicators-demonstrate-housing-per/