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REALTOR.com Says Housing Market Has Reached Equilibrium

Realtor.com®, the leader in online real estate operated by Move, Inc. (NASDAQ: MOVE), today released the realtor.com® National Housing Trend Report forSeptember 2013. The proprietary report is aggregated from real-time listing counts through direct relationships with more than 800 multiple listing services (MLSs) around the country, representing 98 percent of all for-sale properties in the U.S.

The report highlights a strong continuation of equilibrium-oriented trends identified last month. While key indicators show a relatively consistent pace with August figures, the year-over-year perspective shows a strong performance in median list price and decline in days on market, which signal a dramatic rebalancing compared to the beginning of this year. A return to year-ago inventory levels, though steadying, still implies broad housing shortage conditions.

“Our September data on inventory counts, median list prices, and median time on market has shown another month of steady leveling, but the recovery certainly remains uneven in some pockets,” said Errol Samuelson, president of realtor.com®. “Some of the more industrial-based markets clearly continue to struggle, yet others are showing significant price gains over this time last year. While we are pleased to see a continued trend toward a healthy market balance, imminent economic factors could pose a significant threat to these improvements.”

Key Market Indicators for September 2013

September 2013 Year-over-Year

Percentage Change

Month-over-Month

Percentage Change

Number of Listings 1,944,018 -2.04 percent -1.68 percent
Median Age of Inventory 93 -10.58 percent 1.09 percent
Median List Price $199,500 6.40 percent -0.20 percent

National Perspective:

The total U.S. for-sale inventory of single-family homes, condos, townhomes and co-ops declined slightly in September to a total of 1,944,018 units, down 1.68 percent from August. However, after six consecutive months of steady growth, inventories are now just 2.04 percent lower than they were one year ago—a dramatic turnaround compared to earlier this year that signals a greater balance between demand and supply.

The median age of inventory rose slightly in September from 92 to 93 days, but is down by 10.58 percent on a year-over-year basis, suggesting that properties continue to turn over quickly, despite the end of the traditional home buying season.  The median list price fell slightly in September, but remains 6.40 percent higher than it was one year ago.

Market Highlights:

Of particular note in September’s figures are a handful of markets showing very fast-paced sales cycles, some at roughly half of the national median “days on market” figure of 93 days, with Oakland the stand-alone at just 28 days.  Many of these markets are seated in the hot “sand state” regions, with a few outliers such as Denver, Detroit, Seattle and Washington, DC.

Median Age of Inventory
10 MSAs with the Shortest Median Days on Market

September 2013
Oakland, Calif. 28
San Francisco, Calif. 45
Denver, Colo. 45
San Jose, Calif. 45
Stockton-Lodi, Calif. 45
Detroit, Mich. 48
Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz. 50
Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash. 52
Washington, DC-MD-VA-WV(DC) 52
Sacramento, Calif. 52

This month’s figures also paint a picture of three primary sectors of individual market health:

  • Stabilizing Hot Markets.  Many markets in California, Arizona and Nevada that were spotlights of the housing crisis have been on the road to recovery. More than 20 percent of the 146 markets covered by realtor.com® reported exceptionally large year-over-year list price gains of 12 percent or more, many with year-over-year inventory declines still in the double digits.
  • Struggling Sector. The recovery has yet to make an impact on markets where prices are the same or lower than they were last year at this time. Also representing just over 20 percent the 146 markets tracked by realtor.com®, many of these are located in the Midwest, South and Northeast — including Cleveland, Trenton, N.J., Hartford, Conn., Cincinnati and Buffalo, N.Y.  While the economy continues to take its toll in many of these markets, most are displaying small but promising signs with both inventories and age of inventories down compared to one year ago.
  • Responsive Heartland.  A number of major heartland markets that were spared the full force of the housing crisis, in large part due to local economic strength, had a strong buying season throughout the summer.  Chicago, Boise, Idaho, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., Ann Arbor, Mich.,Nashville, Tenn. and Denver all have achieved price appreciation of 12 percent or higher over last year.