Altos Sees House Price Decline Decelerate in March

The median house listing price declined 0.5% in the Altos Research 10-city composite in March, improved from February’s 1.3% decline in an indication the pace of decline may be decelerating. March, the eighth consecutive month of decline, brings the Q110 price decline to 1.8%. But weekly price changes have shown a modest upward trend in the past seven weeks, which means an uptick in house prices could arrive in the coming months, Altos said. Houses listed at an average $477,596 in March, marking a 6.2% decline from the $509,030 peak in July 2009. Listing prices fell in 22 of 26 major metropolitan markets since February, Altos said. San Diego, Phoenix and Denver had the sharpest monthly declines at a respective -2.9%, -2.5% and -2.2% over the previous month. Altos found that prices remained flat in Chicago and rose 0.1%, 0.3% and 1.5% in Cleveland, Boston and Washington DC, respectively. Of these markets, only Washington DC posted a quarterly increase — 0.4% — in Q110. Although overall listed property inventory rose by 4.2% in March, inventory is down 10% from the same time last year. Listed properties in most metropolitan areas remained on the market 100 days or more before sale. Inventory increased at the fastest rate in Houston and Boston, up 18.8% and 15.8% respectively this month. A sharp drop in the Washington DC metro, where inventory is down 17.3%, “bodes well” for house price stability in that area as the spring selling season begins, Altos said. Write to Diana Golobay.

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