denver-housing Photo: Matthew McCullough/Flickr

The US housing market is only getting tighter as sales activity intensifies heading into spring, according to a major American realty franchise.

The number of homes changing hands through MLS systems in 53 metro areas in February was up 5.8 percent from January, according to the latest RE/MAX National Housing Report.

Activity was also up from a year ago, with transactions increasing 4.8 percent compared to February 2015.

“So far in 2016, January and February have both seen home sales at a pace higher than one year ago, and last year was one of the best our industry has seen in quite some time,” said RE/MAX CEO Dave Liniger, in a statement.

If the current rate of activity persisted, February’s inventory would take four months to sell out, down from the 4.6 months it would have taken to clean out supply just one month earlier.

This sinking level of inventory suggests a seller’s market, as six months’ supply is considered balanced, according to RE/MAX.

When looking at the number of homes on the market last month, RE/MAX found supply had fallen 1.3 percent from January and 13.3 percent from a year earlier.

“Consumers are benefiting from price increases that have been moderating, but many will still be dealing with an inventory lower than we’d like to see,” Liniger continued.

Recently, the National Association of Realtors said there was a “glaring need” for more supply of single-family homes in particular, noting what it considers “unhealthy levels of price growth” in some markets.

RE/MAX, which tracks all residential property types, said the shortage of housing stock is the leading factor contributing to residential real estate price appreciation in the US.

Last month, the tightest local market in the country was Denver. At the current rate of activity, inventory would sell out in 1.1 months. San Francisco and Seattle each had 1.2 months of supply remaining in February, according to RE/MAX.

Although the median sales price in February dropped 1 percent from January to $198,000, it still remained 5.9 percent higher than a year ago.

The median selling price increased year-over-year in 45 of the metro areas RE/MAX tracks in its National Housing Report, led by Cleveland, where it surged 15.8 percent.

Tampa, Florida, trailed closely behind with a 15.6 percent price gain, and Boise, Idaho, followed with median price appreciation equalling 13.4 percent.

Rounding out the top five were two more cities in the Sunshine State, one of the markets hardest hit when the US housing bubble burst. Miami and Orlando saw prices grow 12.2 percent and 11.7 percent, respectively.

“Florida’s housing market remains on a steady path,” said Matey Veissi, president of Florida Realtors, in a recent statement. “While inventory levels are tight, the months’ supply of homes for sale remains stable and distressed property sales continue to fall.”

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