Spring is not the only thing returning to the Washington region this month. Home sellers appear to be coming back as well.

New listings increased more than 13 percent across all property segments in February compared with the previous month, according to a report released Monday by RealEstate Business Intelligence and the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis.  

The uptick in homes for sale is a welcome sign in a housing market that has been as dormant the past several months as the area’s flowers and trees. Threats of the fiscal cliff and sequestration coupled with many homeowners owing more than their homes are worth led to months of historically low inventory.

Now as home values steadily rise, more sellers are starting to come off the sidelines. The median sales price climbed to $355,000 in February, a 3.4 percent increase over January and an 11.7 percent increase from February 2012. Single-family detached homes showed the biggest price gains compared to townhouses and condominiums. Their median price grew by $72,000, a 19.5 percent increase from February 2012.  

The average sale-to-list price ratio swelled to its highest percentage since June 2006, increasing to 97.1 percent.  

Housing trends for the Washington metro area

Feb. 2013 %MoM Jan. 2013 %YoY Feb. 2012
Units sold 2,684 7.5% 2,497 7.1% 2,507
Median sale price $355,000 3.4% $343,200 11.7% $317,900
Pending sales 4,277 9.2% 3,916 -5% 4,501
Active listings 6,092 0.7% 6,049 -38% 9,823
New listings 4,541 13.4% 4,004 -5.3% 4,794
Average DOM 60 -4.8% 63 -29.4% 85
Listing discount 2.9% 4% 6.3%
Avg. SP to OLP 97.1% 96% 93.7%

Source: RealEstate Business Intelligence

Buyers, eager to take advantage of low mortgage rates, have been discouraged by how few homes are on the market. They should start to see more properties for sale in the coming weeks as the local real estate market heads into its busiest season.

But even though their choices are limited, buyers continue to be tempted by low interest rates. Sales were up 7.5 percent in February from the previous month and up 7.1 percent compared with February 2012. Condominiums were the most popular property to buy. They accounted for 29.1 percent of all sales in the region, the highest proportion since January 2008.

February median sales price by jurisdiction

2013 2012 YoY
DC Metro $355,000 $317,900 11.7%
Falls Church $737,500 $561,500 31.3%
Arlington $484,500 $480,000 0.9%
Alexandria $438,375 $410,000 6.9%
District $432,500 $398,500 8.5%
Fairfax $420,000 $362,500 15.9%
Fairfax City $430,000 $408,500 5.3%
Montgomery $347,000 $315,000 10.2%
Pr. George’s $165,000 $152,000 8.6%

Source: RealEstate Business Intelligence

Despite the 4,541 new listings in February, the number of homes for sale remains near all-time lows. There were just 6,092 active listings last month, down from 9,823 in February 2012 and about half of February’s five-year average (12,525). Townhomes were in the scarcest supply, accounting for only 16.5 percent of all listings in the region.