Inventory of homes for sale soars 10 percent in February from a year ago

Rising home prices are bolstering seller confidence, fueling rapid growth in the number of homes for sale in many markets in February, according to a report issued by realtor.com today.

Median list prices were up 7.6 percent from a year ago in February, to $199,000, and the inventory of homes for sale rose 10.1 percent, to 1.74 million. In other words, there were 160,000 more homes for sale than the same time a year ago.

Out of 146 markets tracked by realtor.com, 99 experienced annual growth in listings, with 63 of those markets seeing inventories swell by 10 percent or more.

Median list prices and inventory were up on a month-over-month basis as well, rising 2.1 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively, indicating that 2014 home sales, which got off to a slow start in January, have potential to grow as the spring buying season gets underway. But even with the recent surge in listings, inventories “are still extremely low,” realtor.com said in summarizing the overall picture.

“Seller confidence is the factor to watch as we head into the spring homebuying season, and these are very encouraging indicators — not only are more homes coming onto the market, but typically we don’t see a rise in asking prices this early into the year,” said Steve Berkowitz, CEO of realtor.com operator Move Inc., in a statement. “This is the market these sellers have been waiting for.”

Homes in realtor.com’s database include 90 percent of all homes listed in U.S. multiple listing services. According to realtor.com, the homes it was tracking in February had been on the market for a median of 114 days, up 6.5 percent from a year ago but down 0.9 percent from January.

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