The number of discounted homes rose 17.6 percent in January compared to the same month a year ago, far outpacing a rise in inventory, according to a monthly review of multiple listing service listings in 26 major markets by national real estate brokerage ZipRealty.

Inventory overall rose 2.8 percent year-over-year last month, to 583,218 for-sale homes. Of those, nearly half — 46.2 percent — had experienced at least one price reduction. That’s a jump from January 2010, when 40.4 percent had seen a discount.

"In more than half of the surveyed markets, sellers are averaging at least two reductions in price," said John Oldham, ZipRealty’s spokesperson, in a statement. "Inventory has grown throughout much of the year; as sellers face the pressure of more buying options, they seem to be discounting to attract buyers resulting in list prices being cut for over 46 percent of the homes."

The median discount last month was $19,088, down 12.9 percent from $21,925 in January 2010. Meanwhile, the median list price for a home fell nearly the same percentage, 13 percent, between the two time periods, to $225,015 from $258,634. The price-reduction-to-list-price ratio remained flat at 7.8 percent.

Sellers cut prices of more than half of homes in four markets: Baltimore (50.6 percent); Jacksonville, Fla. (54.7 percent); Orlando, Fla. (52.1 percent); and Phoenix (55.4 percent).

Homes in the three Florida markets reviewed saw the highest price reduction to list price ratios: Orlando, 12.5 percent; Jacksonville, 12.1 percent; and Miami/Ft. Lauderdale/Palm Beach, 11.9 percent.

Austin, Texas, and Raleigh-Durham, N.C., saw the smallest discounts relative to price: 5.2 percent each.

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