Listings of Homes for Sale Drop as U.S. Housing Recovers

The number of homes listed for sale in the U.S. fell 18 percent last month from a year earlier, and the time they stayed on the market dropped 11 percent, signs of a strengthening housing market, according to Realtor.com data.

There were 1.8 million homes for sale in September, down from 2.2 million a year earlier and more than 40 percent below the September 2007 peak of 3.1 million, according to the National Association of Realtors’ website. Properties on the market last month had been listed for an average of 95 days, down from 107 days a year earlier, Realtor.com said today.

“There’s a recovery,” Curt Beardsley, vice president of Realtor.com, operated by Campbell, California-based Move Inc. (MOVE), said in a telephone interview. “Our market times are low and there’s actually a compression of inventory.”

Demand for homes has begun to rebound as low interest rates and property prices 30 percent below their July 2006 peak increase affordability. The number of repossessed homes and short sales coming to market also is declining. Foreclosure filings, including notices of default and bank seizures, dropped in the third quarter to their lowest level since 2007, RealtyTrac Inc. reported on Oct. 11.

Rising demand is starting to push up home values. The median asking price was $191,500 last month, up 0.8 percent from a year earlier, according to Realtor.com.

Inventories have fallen the most and asking prices risen the fastest in regions that were hit hardest by the real estate crash, such as cities in Arizona and California, according to Realtor.com data from 146 metropolitan areas. At the other end of the spectrum, asking prices fell in both Chicago and Philadelphia, one of only two cities where the number of listings increased. The other was Shreveport, Louisiana.

‘Older, Industrialized’

“Older, industrialized areas have economies that don’t turn around quickly,” Beardsley said in a telephone interview from Austin, Texas, where he was traveling for work.

Sales of previously owned homes climbed to an annual pace of 4.82 million in August, the highest level in two years, according to the Chicago-based National Association of Realtors. Sales probably declined to a 4.75 million pace last month, the median estimate of 59 respondents in a Bloomberg survey. September data will be released Oct. 19.

To contact the reporter on this story: John Gittelsohn in Los Angeles at johngitt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kara Wetzel at kwetzel@bloomberg.net

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