SEATTLE, WA -- After 17 consecutive months of double-digit annual price appreciation, March saw gains soften to 9.9 percent after rising 12.9 percent in February and 14.1 percent in January. According to the latest report by Redfin (www.redfin.com), the technology-powered real estate brokerage, home sales were down for the fifth month in a row, with an 11.6 percent year-over-year decline.
Home sellers' grip on the market is beginning to loosen in some markets as a new wave of listings hits the market. The effect of the new inventory will vary by market, however. Some of the largest gains in inventory are in West Coast markets where home sales have been falling despite already increasing inventory. Those markets include Ventura, Calif. (13.1% increase in new listings) and Riverside, Calif. (12.8%), where rising prices are likely hindering home sales. But new listings in inventory-hungry and relatively affordable markets such as Chicago (10.6%), Philadelphia (2%), Seattle (1.3%) and Portland, Ore. (1.1%) are likely to sell quickly.
"In a changing market like this one, pricing a home correctly is extremely important in order to attract the best offers and sell quickly," says Paul Reid, Redfin agent in Riverside, Calif. "As inventory and price levels shift, even a home that sold last month could be an out-of-date comparable. Instead, we're closely monitoring the homes that went under contract last week and pricing our listings accordingly."
The report's key findings include:
Home prices increased 9.9% year over year following 17 consecutive months of double-digit annual price appreciation. Prices were up 4.1% from February.
Home sales fell 11.6% from last year and increased 25.4% from February.
The number of homes for sale in March was the same as last year and increased 1% from February.
New listings increased 6.3% from last year and were up a substantial 27.4% from February.
Market-specific highlights and lowlights
Las Vegas led 19 markets in year-over-year home price increases, up 20.8%, followed by Riverside, Calif. (19.6%) and Sacramento (19.5%). Meanwhile, home prices in Baltimore were flat, and fell in Long Island, N.Y. (-0.9%) and Philadelphia (-1.9%).
Year over year, sales fell the most in Ventura, Calif. (-24.8%), followed by San Diego (-19.1%) and Phoenix (-17.3%). Baltimore was the only market to see sales increase, with just a 0.2% jump from last year.
Inventory in Phoenix jumped most dramatically, by 41.9% from last year. The next largest increases were seen in Ventura, Calif. (28.9%) and Riverside, Calif. (25.7%). Inventory fell the most in Boston, where the number of homes for sale fell by 28.2% from last year.
The markets with the largest increase in new listings compared with last March were Ventura, Calif. (13.1%), Riverside, Calif. (12.8%) and Long Island, N.Y. (12.7%). In Austin, T.X., 3.7% fewer new listings were added.
The full report, complete with charts and market-by-market data, is available at the following link. www.redfin.com/research/reports/real-time-price-tracker/2014/price-tracker-march-2014.html.