Housing Prices at a Four-Year High

The median list price index reaches a four-year high, while inventory is either plentiful or nonexistent depending on where in the country you look.

Mar 9, 2014 at 8:25AM

What a difference a year makes—if you're on the West Coast or in Florida. Compared to this time in 2013, inventory levels in many of the California, Arizona, Nevada, and Florida metros we survey for Movoto Real Estate's monthly State of the Real Estate Market report are up significantly. At the same time, pretty much everywhere else in the country—especially Texas—has seen inventory levels go largely unchanged or drop significantly.

Fifteen of the 38 markets we look at saw double-digit increases in inventory versus this time last year, while 11 witnessed decreases of more than 10 percent. In February 2013, there were 89,198 properties on the market in our specified cities, while last month there were 95,393, a total increase year-over-year of 6.9 percent.

At the same time, the median list price index is at its highest level since at least January 2010, at $182. Compared to this time last year, when the index sat at $168, that is a 8.4 percent rise. All but three of the markets we survey for this report either saw a year-over-year increase in the median list price per square foot index or remained flat. The most significant price increases correlated with the markets where inventory has seen the largest inventory decreases, such as Texas, with Minneapolis, MN seeing the sharpest rise in price despite no significant loss of inventory.

How This Report Is Made
When building Movoto's monthly State of the Real Estate Market report, we look at 38 geographically diverse cities in order to determine total inventory levels and a median price per square foot index. In addition, we further break down this data on a month-over-month and year-over-year basis. The data used comes from each city's Multiple Listing Service.

Median List Price Per Square Foot Index

Compared to February 2013, the median list price per square foot index for February 2014 climbed 8.4 percent from $168 to $182, a different of $14 per square foot. Increases in the median list price per square foot index were seen in 31 of the 38 markets we survey for this report, while four remained unchanged and three saw slight decreases.


The three cities that saw the largest increase in median price per square foot index year-over-year were:

  • Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota's largest city also saw the largest year-over-year gain in median price per square foot on our index, going from $118 in February 2013 to $153 in February 2014, an increase of $35 or 29.7 percent.
  • Houston, TX: Everything's bigger in Texas, and in this case that includes year-over-year pricing. The median list price per square foot in this city increased by 22.4 percent between February 2013 and February 2014, going from $76 to $93, a different of $17.
  • Boston, MA: The capital of Massachusetts saw its median price per square foot climb $79 from $399 to $478 in the past 12 months, an increase of 19.8 percent

Colorado Springs, CO, Charlotte, NC, and Cleveland, OH all saw decreases in their median price per square foot of 1.7, 2.0, and 2.1 percent, respectively.

The median list price per square foot index rose by $2 between January and February, going from $180 to $182, an increase of 1.1 percent. This is in line with the month-over-month increase between January and February 2013 of $2, from $146 to $148, and marks the second straight year where the median list price per square foot index has increased between January and February.

Total Inventory Level

Comparing February 2013 and February 2014, total inventory is up year-over-year by 6.9 percent, from 89,198 properties to 95,393 across the 38 markets we survey. The market continues it slow climb back to the inventory levels of pre-2012, such as when, in February 2011, there were 178,305 homes for sale. To put things into perspective, from February 2012 to February 2013, total inventory dropped by 29.4 percent, from 126,361 homes for sale to 89,198.


The three cities that witnessed the largest increase in year-over-year inventory for February were:

  • Fresno, CA: Located in California's Central Valley, Fresno saw its inventory increase by a staggering 98.3 percent from February 2013 to February 2014, going from 593 homes on the market to 1,176.
  • Phoenix, AZ: This Arizona metro had 2,816 properties for sale in February 2013 versus 5,155 last month, an increase of 2,399 home or 83.1 percent.
  • Mesa, AZ: Elsewhere in Arizona, this city witnessed a 79.1 percent increase in year-over-year inventory, going from 1,118 homes for sale to 2,002 between February 2013 and February 2014.

Boston, MA lost the most inventory between February 2013 and February 2014, going from 868 homes for sale to 586, a decrease of 31.7 percent. Despite seeing a decrease in median list price per square foot, Cleveland, OH actually had its inventory drop by 24.9 percent in the past year from 1,427 in February 2013 to 1,072 last month.


Total inventory actually increased ever-so-slightly between January and February, going from 94,561 homes to 95,313 across the 38 markets we survey for this report. This marks the first time since 2012 when month-over-month inventory levels actually increased between January and February.

During the same period in 2011, 2012, and 2013, inventory levels fell, although the rate at which they did so has been slowing. In our analysis, inventory and prices look to continue the trend of the past 12 months, with both slowly increasing throughout 2014. However, we don't anticipate either to do so at the same rapid pace as last year, as new inventory continues to reach the market.

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This article originally appeared on Movoto.com

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