Real Estate

Buyers in expensive neighborhoods find more homes for sale


Getty Images/iStockPhoto  Cities like San Jose, Calif., are seeing more homes listed for sale this summer.

Getty Images/iStockPhoto

Cities like San Jose, Calif., are seeing more homes listed for sale this summer.

Home buyers in high-priced housing markets saw some relief in July, but it’s too early to tell whether that trend will continue.

The inventory of homes listed for sale increased year-over-year in 16 of the 45 largest metropolitan areas nationwide in July, according to a report released Wednesday by Realtor.com. They included markets that have experienced some of the most pronounced home price growth since the Great Recession, such as San Jose, Calif., and Seattle.

Metro area Annual change in active home listingsMedian listing price

San Jose, Calif. 44% $1,205,000

Seattle, Wash. 29% $569,000

Providence, R.I. 23% $350,000

Portland, Ore. 19% $472,000

San Diego, Calif. 18% $691,000

Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas 15% $349,000

Sacramento, Calif. 12% $460,000

Jacksonville, Fla. 11% $308,000

Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif. 10% $391,000

San Francisco-Oakland, Calif. 10% $940,000

New Orleans, La. 7% $282,000

Boston, Mass. 5% $519,000

Kansas City, Mo.-Kan. 4% $272,000

San Antonio, Texas 3% $292,000

New York, N.Y. 2% $536,000

Tampa, Fla. 1% $273,000

Los Angeles, Calif. -1% $752,000

Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Fla. -1% $394,000

Austin, Texas -1% $371,000

Detroit, Mich. -1% $253,000

Chicago, Ill. -2% $299,000

Raleigh, N.C. -3% $348,000

Houston, Texas -3% $323,000

Rochester, N.Y. -3% $188,000

Charlotte, N.C. -4% $340,000

Memphis, Tenn. -5% $211,000

Virginia Beach, Va. -6% $285,000

St. Louis, Mo. -7% $210,000

Baltimore, Md. -7% $325,000

Washington, D.C. -7% $448,000

Buffalo, N.Y. -7% $190,000

Atlanta, Ga. -8% $329,000

Cleveland, Ohio -8% $182,000

Louisville/Jefferson County, Ky.-Ind. -8% $251,000

Hartford, Conn. -9% $275,000

Pittsburgh, Pa. -9% $181,000

Orlando, Fla. -9% $316,000

Oklahoma City, Okla. -9% $239,000

Phoenix, Ariz. -9% $337,000

Richmond, Va. -10% $319,000

Cincinnati, Ohio -11% $257,000

Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn .-11% $344,000

Philadelphia, Pa .-12% $270,000

Milwaukee, Wis. -16% $257,000

Indianapolis, Ind. -26% $272,000

(Realtor.com is operated by News Corp NWSA, +1.14%  subsidiary Move Inc., and MarketWatch is a unit of Dow Jones, which is also a subsidiary of News Corp.)

Over the past few years, the number of homes listed for sale has shrunk considerably as more existing homeowners chose to stay put and homebuilding activity slowed to a crawl. Housing inventory continues to shrink, decreasing 4% year-over-year in July. Nevertheless, that’s slower than the 8% average rate of decline posted over the past year.

Higher costs of labor and materials and a low number of available lots have constrained homebuilding in recent years, said Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com. But in places like San Jose, where there’s greater demand for high-priced homes, builders are now finding more flexibility. “Builders can more easily pass on some of the increased costs they’re facing through high-end construction,” Hale said.

In other words, home builders will have to pay a higher price for things like lumber and construction workers regardless of the property they construct. Consequently, they’re more attracted to building trade-up homes or homes in pricier markets, since that will offset these added expenses, Hale said.

This helps explain why the inventory of homes listed above $350,000 increased 5.7% year-over-year, while the inventory of homes being sold for less than $200,000 has dropped 15.6%.

Builders are also sensitive to market sentiment. If buyers are indeed getting discouraged — whether because of the high home prices, rising mortgage-related costs or growing concerns about a potential recession — that could ultimately discourage new home building. And then many buyers may find themselves right back where they started, with fewer homes to choose from.

SOURCE: MarketWatch.com

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