For the first time in eight years, the overall U.S. housing market is experiencing a rare balance between home-buyer demand and home-seller supply, according to HouseHunt’s latest Current Market Conditions quarterly survey.

Only 45 percent of respondents reported more buyers than sellers, compared to a 61 percent-39 percent ratio six months ago. Thirty-one percent reported more sellers than buyers; the remaining 24 percent said their markets are almost evenly divided. In the South, the Midwest, the Northeast and in California, the buyer-seller ratio closely matches the national figures.

National survey results from HouseHunt member agents in 47 states mirrors the latest monthly sales activity reported by the National Association of Realtors, which estimated the nation’s supply of unsold homes at 5.3 months for both January and February. An inventory of 5.5 to 6 months is considered a balanced market between buyers and sellers.

Additional highlights from the HouseHunt survey include:

  • It’s taking longer to sell a home in most markets, and the trend is up. Fifty-five percent of respondents said it is now taking more than 60 days, on average, from listing to sale. Three months ago, only 30 percent said it was taking more than 60 days.

  • Seventy-five percent of sellers are still getting at least 95 percent of their asking prices. Only seven percent say they are still getting more than 100 percent.

  • Home appreciation in the past 12 months is holding firm at about 10 percent. The trend is moving toward single-digit appreciation, however. Fifty-four percent reported five percent or less, 20 percent said five to 10 percent, and 26 percent said 10 percent or more.

  • Eighty-one percent reported a good supply of unsold homes in virtually all price ranges, with inventories steadily growing.

  • Multiple offers dropped from 70 percent a year ago to 39 percent in the first quarter of 2006 as demand for unsold homes decreased in many markets.

  • Move-up and repeat buyers outnumber first-time buyers by a two-to-one margin in most parts of the country. The margin is three-to-one margin in California and the South. The national two-to-one ratio has remained constant in the past three to five years despite rapid run-ups in home appreciation.

HouseHunt has a network of more than 1,500 member agents representing exclusive territories in 47 states.

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