Housing inventory crunch seems to be easing up

Home inventory

A home is sold in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles-Long Beach market inventory climbed 7.8% from June and was 6.8% higher than July 2012, according to data from Realtor.com. (Reed Saxon / Associated Press / August 15, 2012)

The persistent inventory crunch helping boost home prices rapidly higher may be fading, according to a new report.

The nation saw a 5.2% decline in inventory last month — the second straight month of single-digit yearly drops, according to a Realtor.com report released Tuesday. In May, inventory fell 10% over the year.

“Dramatic national year-over-year inventory declines have evaporated,” Move Inc., which operates Realtor.com, said in a news release.

The number of listings rose 1.4% from June — the fifth consecutive monthly rise. Last year, inventory declined from June to July.

In some markets, the number of homes listed for sale has started to increase compared with last year. Twenty-five markets posted yearly inventory gains of 1% or more last month. Only seven markets saw such growth in April.

Tight inventory, investor demand and historically low interest rates have helped boost prices lately — especially in markets such as Los Angeles and Phoenix that fell hard during the bust.

Those price increases could be spurring more home owners to list their houses for sale — a decision many economists say should help moderate fast-rising home values.

The Los Angeles-Long Beach market inventory climbed 7.8% from June and was 6.8% higher than July 2012, according to data from Realtor.com. The median list price in the L.A. region was $440,000 in July, basically flat from June, but 29.4% higher than last year.

In Riverside and San Bernardino counties, inventory rose 3.2% over the month and jumped 26% from last year — the largest yearly gain in the country. The median list price in the Inland Empire was  $252,200 in July, nearly 1% more than June and 23% more than July 2012.

Inventory in Orange County rose 8.4% last month, but still remains 2.3% below last year. List prices there rose 34% over the year and 1.8% from June to hit $575,000.

Nationwide, the median list price was $199,900 in July, a 5.3% rise from last year and flat from June.

LA Times

By Andrew Khouri

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