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The median sales price of US residential properties increased by 1% in March and are up 10% compared to a year ago, according to the latest figures from housing data specialist RealtyTrac.

It means that the median price of a home reached $164,500 with after 24 months in a row of median home prices increasing on an annual basis. It was also the biggest annual percentage increase in that 24 month span.

‘The housing market showed signs of coming out of hibernation in March after a sluggish fall and winter. Median home prices increased on a monthly basis following six consecutive months where they were flat or declining, and increased on an annual basis by the biggest percentage since hitting bottom in March 2012,’ said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

Sales volume also increased slightly from March to February, up 0.4%, and up 8% from a year ago following four consecutive monthly decreases, but both annual sales volume and median prices are still below their recent peaks in October and August respectively.

Meanwhile, the distressed share of sales increased from the fourth quarter to the first quarter nationwide and in 38 states, which Blomquist said, along with many non-distressed home owners regaining enough equity to list their homes for sale, is helping to ease low inventory conditions in some markets.

The data also shows that last month 34% of all sales were to second home buyers or real estate investors. Also, 7% of all sales in March were multi parcel transactions where multiple properties were sold on the same date and recorded on the same sales deed document. These multi parcel transactions are likely not reported on any Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

Despite the annual increase in residential sales volume nationwide, sales volume in March decreased from a year ago in six states and 21 of the nation’s 50 largest metro areas.

States with decreasing sales volume compared to a year ago were Massachusetts, Rhode Island, California, Connecticut, Nevada and Arizona. Major metros with decreasing sales volume from a year ago included San Jose, down 18%, San Francisco down 15%, Los Angeles down 14%, Rochester in New York also down 14%, and Sacramento down 13%.
San Diego, Orlando, Las Vegas and Providence in Rhode Island were all down 12% while Phoenix and Riverside-San Bernardino in California were down 11%, Hartford, Connecticut was down 10% and Boston down 8%.

Although annual home price appreciation accelerated nationwide in March, some of the markets with the biggest bounce back in home prices from the bottom of the market showed signs of slowing home price appreciation during the month.

In San Francisco, where median home prices are up 94% from the bottom in March 2009, last month home prices increased 26% from a year ago, down from a peak annual home price appreciation of 39% in June 2013. In Detroit, where median home prices are up 92% from the bottom in May 2009, last month home prices increased 29% from a year ago, down from a peak annual home price appreciation of 38% in October 2013. In Phoenix, where median home prices are up 59% from the bottom in March 2011, last month home prices increased 13% from a year ago, down from a peak annual home price appreciation of 30% in April 2013. In Atlanta, where median home prices are up 41% from the bottom in February 2012, last month home prices increased 20% from a year ago, down from a peak annual home price appreciation of 27% in December 2013.
 
Short sales and distressed sales accounted for 16.4% of all sales in the first quarter of 2014, up from 14.5% in the previous quarter but still down from 18.5% in the first quarter of 2013. Metro areas with the highest share of combined short sales and distressed sales were Las Vegas at 41.6%, Stockton at 34.8%, Detroit at 34.2%, Cleveland also at 34.2%, and Dayton, Ohio at 33.4%.

Short sales nationwide accounted for 5.6% of all sales in the first quarter, up from 5.2% of all sales in the fourth quarter but down from 7% of all sales in the first quarter of 2013. Metros with a high percentage of short sales in the first quarter included Orlando at 16.6%, Tampa at 14.6%, Las Vegas at 14.1%, Miami at 13.7%, Jacksonville in Florida also at 13.7% and Memphis at 12.7%.

Sales of bank owned properties nationwide accounted for 9.6% of all sales in the first quarter, up from 8.6% of all sales in the previous quarter but down from 10.6% of all sales in the first quarter of 2013. Metro areas with the highest percentage of bank owned sales in the first quarter were Dayton, Ohio at 27.1%, Akron, Ohio at 25.2%, Modesto in California at 25%, Stockton California at 24.6%, Cleveland at 23.8%, Las Vegas at 23.7% and Detroit at 22.3%.

This article was republished with permission from Property Wire.