November home sales in the 53 largest metro areas rose 8.1% from last year, the fifth-straight month of increases from a year earlier, according to the real estate networkRE/MAX.
Sales did fall 5.7% from the previous month, following a seasonal trend. The inventory of homes on the market dropped for the 17th straight month. Inventory is down 23.7% from last year.
Given the rate of sales, the national market currently holds a 7.8-month supply of homes, which is down from a 10-month supply last year. A market balanced by sellers and buyers usually holds a six-month inventory.
"This market is trying hard to stabilize itself with home sales significantly stronger than one year ago, even though we are entering the holiday season when sales traditionally decline," said Margaret Kelly, CEO of RE/MAX.
Home sales increased 31% in New Orleans, the most of the 41 metros that saw gains. With sales trending higher, Kelly expects prices to follow. Most banking analysts forecastprices to find a bottom sometime in 2012 before heading back up.
The median sales price of homes sold in November was $181,322, up 1.4% from the month before but down 4.2% from last year, according to RE/MAX. Only nine of the 53 metros showedincreases from November 2010 led by two cities in Florida. In Orlando, prices climbed 8.5% followed by a 6.1% increase in Miami.