Inventory -- and asking prices -- on the rise
The price that sellers are asking for homes in the Baltimore metro area has been on the rise the last few months, but so have the number of homes for sale -- two measures that can't head in the same direction for long.
New figures from Altos Research, a California-based real estate market research firm, show a 12 percent increase in single-family homes for sale in the Baltimore region over the past three months. Asking prices rose 4 percent over the same period.
Altos, which noted in an email to me that prices and inventory "usually have an inverse relationship," said Baltimore's increase in the number of houses for sale was the largest among 21 mid-sized metro areas. The average increase across the group was about 2 percent.
The average asking-price increase was about 3 percent, Altos said.
The company predicts the housing market is entering a "catfish recovery" (we're way past the point of using letters to describe the market's past-and-future trajectory).
"The recovery in housing will be extended for a long period of time, and like a catfish, bob up and down with no direction," Altos wrote in its mid-sized markets report.
Department of Numbers, the website formerly known as HousingTracker, has asking-price data for the metro area back to 2006. That shows small increases aren't unusual in the spring and early summer -- the busy season for home sales -- but asking prices fall later in the year.
This time the uptick is bigger than normal, though. The median asking price in June is $17,000 higher than it was in January, the largest increase for that period since the site began tracking asking prices five years ago. (The increase was $10,000 last year, when the homebuyer tax credit was giving a kick to sales, about $3,500 in 2009 and 2008, and $7,200 in 2007.)
What's up? Perhaps more owners of larger homes are in the market now, pressing up the median asking price. Or maybe sellers are just feeling more optimistic. What do you think?
Despite the increase from $213,000 in January to $230,000 in June, the median asking price is 8 percent below what it was in June of last year, Department of Numbers reports.
The change since June 2006, more or less the top of the market? Down 34 percent.