Blomquist: u201cThe distressed share of sales is helping to ease low-inventory conditions in some markets.u201d<@SM>Home price increases are slowing in several major markets.<@SM>Short sales and distressed sales bumped up during the first quarter of the year, easing conditions in some low-inventory areas. ***Charts courtesy of RealtyTrac.

[IMGCAP(1)]

IRVINE, CA—“The housing market showed signs of coming out of hibernation in March after a sluggish fall and winter,” says Daren Blomquist, VP at RealtyTrac. Blomquist adds that median home prices increased on a monthly basis following six consecutive months where they were flat or declining, and they increased on an annual basis by the biggest percentage since hitting bottom in March 2012.

In a recent report, RealtyTrac reveals that the median sales price of both distressed and non-distressed US residential properties was $164,500 in March up 1% from February and up 10% from March 2013. March was the 24th consecutive month where US median home prices increased on an annual basis, and the 10% annual increase was the biggest annual percentage increase in that 24-month span.

In addition to home prices, sales activity also showed signs of reversing its downward in March, the firm reports. US residential properties, including single-family homes, condominiums and townhomes, sold at an estimated annual pace of nearly 5.3 million during the month, an increase of 0.4% from February and up 8% from a year ago.

However, Blomquist says that both annual sales volume and median prices are still below their recent peaks in October 2013 and August 2013, respectively. “Meanwhile, the distressed share of sales increased from the fourth quarter to the first quarter nationwide and in 38 states, which—along with many non-distressed homeowners regaining enough equity to list their homes for sale—is helping to ease low-inventory conditions in some markets.”

As GlobeSt.com reported earlier this month, US bank-owned properties sold during the first quarter of the year had been bank-owned for an average of 226 days when they sold, a 34% increase from the average of 168 days in the first quarter of 2013, according to RealtyTrac. The firm says states with above-average time to sell REOs included Texas, Michigan, Minnesota, Colorado and Georgia.

[IMGCAP(2)]

[IMGCAP(3)]