NEW YORK (MainStreet) When Patrece Ricks moved her family from Louisiana to Texas, she wasn't financially able to buy a home, so she rented an apartment in a safe, gated community where there are good schools for her son. Despite having swimming pool access, free internet and security within the complex, she hopes one day to afford her own home.
"The downside is uncontrolled noise invasion and we have no yard for planting a garden," Ricks told MainStreet.
Now would be a perfect time for the Ricks family to buy a home within the state, since the inventory in Dallas and Fort Worth jumped 18% and 15% this past month in anticipation of home buying season, according to Realtor's National Housing Trend Report.
"If this trend continues, buyers should have a better selection of homes in the spring and summer months," said Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Move, which operates Realtor.com. "On a month over month basis, median list prices have stayed relatively constant which is good for first timers looking to get into the market."
Among the ten largest markets still registering inventory declines from a year ago are Denver and Chicago with median list prices of 19.6% and 14.3%, respectively. However the state of California is bouncing back with Fresno, Bakersfield, Riverside and Oakland all reporting increases of 40% or more on the numbers of homes for sale.
"Prices in many California markets hit record levels last year, creating opportunities for sellers," Berkowitz told MainStreet. "Higher prices also translated into higher home values, which lifted thousands of California homeowners out of negative equity, freeing them to sell if they wished."
While the number of properties for sale in February rose 10.1% to 1,744,032 units, the median list price at $199,000 increased 7.6% compared to the same month last year and the median age of inventory increased 6.5% to 114 days.
"Inventory is up for two reasons," Berkowitz said. "First, this is the time of year when sellers list their homes for the spring buying season. Second, inventories are growing faster than normal right now in response to wide spread median list price increases."
In February, the median list price for a home increased by 7.6% and the median list price on Realtor.com increased 2%.
"In the winter months, home prices tend to settle down as sales decline so month-to-month price numbers may be flat or decline but it is a seasonal phenomenon," said Berkowitz.
In fact, more sellers are putting their homes on the market, contributing to an overflowing inventory.
"With a big increase in value last year and the prospect for more gains this year, sellers have a greater incentive to sell now," Berkowitz said.
Despite the encouraging signs of a spreading recovery across much of the country, weak markets still persist. List prices in 14 markets dropped by more than 1% in February in older, industrialized areas such as Shreveport, Rochester and Omaha.
"These markets declined largely for reasons having to do with their local economies, including unemployment, out-migration and lack of economic growth," said Berkowitz. "These patterns underscore the multi-pronged nature of the housing recovery and its dependence on the strength of the local economies."
--Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet