Surging home prices in region help fuel more new listings

The median sales price last month in the Washington region reached its highest level on record for May, according to new data released Monday, presenting further economic evidence that the housing recovery is in full swing here.

Last month, the median sales price in the area reached $424,000, according to the report by RealEstate Business Intelligence (RBI), a subsidiary of the Rockville-based multiple listing service MRIS.

While the rising prices are good for sellers, they could ultimately benefit buyers as well. Inventory has been at historically low levels during the past year, but new listings increased 20 percent from April to May, according to RBI.

Low inventory coupled with high demand have driven bidding wars in neighborhoods across the region and pushed houses out of reach for many buyers, especially those in the market for the first time and those with limited means. The report suggests that the steady increase in the median sales price is prompting more sellers to list their homes.

Last month, the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University, which collaborates with RBI, said it noticed that new listings surged 22 percent from March to April.

Higher new listings for two consecutive months could indicate the beginning of a trend rather than a fluke. If the trend continues, the report says, prices could stabilize, helping first-time buyers better afford the homes of their choice.

The surge in new listings would have to continue for several months to make a significant impact, as the number of active listings still lags sales.

According to the report, last month’s median sales price of $424,000 represented an 8.2 percent increase from the previous May. Last month’s number surpassed the previous record in May 2005 of $420,000.

The report shows that other aspects of the market are at boom levels. For instance:

• The District and Alexandria posted record highs in their median sales prices, respectively $490,000 and $525,000.

• Prince George’s County had the highest 12-month growth rate in the price, rising 18.8 percent from May 2012 to last month.

• Sales in the region reached 5,088 in May, a 13.6 percent increase from the year before.

• The median days on the market reached nine, the lowest level since the summer of 2005.

• The average sold-to-original-list price ratio reached the highest level since October 2005: 98.6 percent.