US property sales still falling

by Ray Clancy on March 8, 2011

US market prices keep falling

Residential property prices in the US fell another 2% in February with declines in all 27 markets tracked by the latest Altos Research index, but the market outlook is improving.

The company said prices are slowly improving and housing inventory is up 3.75% nationwide as the market moves into a much-anticipated spring selling season. The inventory of homes for sale declined sharply over through the holiday season, Altos said.

Prices were down significantly in San Francisco and Washington in February while the listing inventory in the two cities increased, indicating sellers are bringing properties to market ahead of an expected uptick in buyer activity, according to Altos.

‘While the headline pricing metric 90 day rolling average still shows monthly declines, week over week data are beginning to show signs of improvement, indicating a good start to what is, typically, the strongest sales period of the calendar year,’ the analytics firm said.

Altos said its 10 city composite index decreased just more than 2% last month to nearly $433,600 and is now down 3.4% over the past three months.

The latest report from the National Association of Realtors also shows sales declines, down 2.8% in January from the previous month and 1.5% on year on year. That decline followed a 3.2% drop between the months of November and December and a 2.8% year on year fall in December.

January sales in the Midwest declined the most, plummeting 7.3% when compared to the previous month and 3.2% year on year. Meanwhile, sales in the West and Northeast fell nearly 1% and 3%, respectively, from last year.

Although generally property sales are weak one sector in particular has seen a turnaround. Sales on properties worth over $1 million or more increased 18.6% last year, according to figures from Data Quick.

The San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara, California, region posted the highest change in home sales more than $1 million, up 27.4% compared to 2009, followed by Riverside/San Bernardino/Ontario, California, up 27.1%, and the New York/Northern New Jersey/Long Island MSA up 24.7%.

Nearly 38,500 homes in the high-end market sold during 2010, however, every single market is considerably below its peak. The best performing sector is the $5 million plus sector, up nearly 14%. Almost 300 homes costing $5 million or more sold around Los Angeles/Long Beach/Santa Ana, in California.

The Sacramento MSA posted the highest annual change, up 60% compared to the previous year, while Baltimore reported the largest decrease, down 66.7%.

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