USA Home Prices and Rents Climbing in February 2012

by Guest Author Scott Sambucci, Altos Research

The latest home prices data shows that a stable market in January is leading to an up month in February.  Rents and newly listed property prices all climbing weekly.”

Like Giants fans around the country still celebrating a big win, the housing markets seem to want to play the role of the triumphant underdog. Rolling into February 2012, the housing market has a set of reasonably bullish signals. But is it too early to celebrate?At the end of January 2012, most metro markets saw stable pricing and several are ticking up, as inventory dropped for the beginning of the year. Stable pricing in January, where prices can be expected to seasonally drop, points to a bullish start in the New Year. In parallel with the market of homes for sale, we have observed strength in the rental market. (Altos Research now tracks nearly one million rental units, their pricing and availability each month.) The following chart illustrates the correlation of home prices and rents across the country as of January 27, 2012.

Key takeaways for February 2o12:

  • At the end of January, the national median home price (as measured by the Altos 20-City Composite) remained basically unchanged at $354,408 from $354,896 in December 2011.
  • By February 10 the earliest leading indicator, Price of Newly Listed Properties, has ticked up for five consecutive weeks.
  • Looking at the slower-turning 90-day rolling average, four markets saw an increase in price in January. The two markets with the largest increase include, Miami/Fort Lauderdale/Miami Beach and Phoenix/Mesa/Scottsdale, both with an increase of 2.5%.
  • In both December 2011 and January, 14 markets experienced a decrease in price. The biggest price decreases were seen in San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara (-2.6%), Cleveland/Elyria/Mentor (-2.5%), and San Diego/Carlsbad/San Marcos (-2.4%).
  • Inventory levels were down as seasonally typical in 25 markets and up in one (Cleveland/Elyria/Mentor – 4%). The largest decrease was seen in San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara (-20.7%).

Trends: January 2012 Home Prices

Four markets saw an increase in price in January, typically the weakest month for home prices. Broadly the Altos-20 City Composite national view was unchanged from December.

It should be noted that the Miami/Fort Lauderdale/Miami Beach market has seen prices trending up. Prices were up 4.8% in December 2011 and 2.5% in January.

The Las Vegas/Paradise market has seen similar movement. Prices have not increased at a rate as fast as in Miami/Fort Lauderdale/Miami Beach, but inventory has decreased significantly. January saw a 14.8% decrease from the prior month and between November and December 2011, inventory levels dropped a staggering 27.8%.

It seems both buyers and sellers in Miami and Las Vegas can finally celebrate a home team win as it relates to movement in their market!

Trends: January 2012 Inventory Levels

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