From US News:
For-sale home inventories are dropping nationally while median sales prices are rising, according to new data released Wednesday, a rare but encouraging sign of renewed optimism in America’s feeble housing market.
Inventories declined 3.48 percent from September to October, according to Realtor.com, and are down 20.77 percent from one year ago. Median list prices, which have remained essentially unchanged since June, were up 2.65 percent nationally year over year.
“These developments can be viewed as a positive sign that the market has stabilized and in some parts of the country, has begun to recover,” the report said. “Lower inventories combined with generally stable list prices can be seen as a positive sign that the overall market is holding its own.”
To be sure, there’s still plenty of variation across the country. After all, real estate is nothing if not hyper-local. Markets remain fragile, particularly those with high unemployment rates and large numbers of seriously delinquent borrowers, which threatens to add to an already gigantic shadow inventory.
Still, some markets have begun to rally and show nascent signs of recovery, even as others continue to struggle. Parts of Florida, some of the hardest hit by the housing market decline, have consistently posted improving list prices and reduced inventories. Indeed, median list prices remain well below their pre-crisis peaks. Florida held the top five spots for markets with the largest year-over-year median list price increases in October. The Fort Myers and Miami metro areas saw the largest year-over-year increases, posting 33 and 25 percent price upticks respectively.
On the flip side, markets at the epicenter of the original housing market implosion—Las Vegas and parts of California—continue to lag. In addition, markets such as Chicago and Detroit, which didn’t see the meteoric run-up in building and home prices, are now experiencing some of the most severe price declines. Home prices in those midwestern cities sunk almost 13 and 11 percent respectively.
While the housing market still has a lot of ground to make up, key indicators are beginning to point in the right direction, experts say. Regional variation will persist as some markets fare better and others lag due to external economic pressures and the continuing fallout from foreclosures, overbuilding, and homeowners with negative equity.