The Washington area housing market continues on an upswing, according to a report released Monday morning by RealEstate Business Intelligence.

Housing trends for the Washington area (RealEstate Business Intelligence)

There were 4,062 sales last month in the region, up 6.4 percent from August 2011 but down 2.4 percent from July. The decrease was on par with the usual dip in sales from July to August. Sales of detached homes were 4.7 percent higher compared to a year ago, while townhome sales were up 5.1 percent. Condo sales soared 12 percent greater than a year ago.

There were 4,482 new contracts signed in August, an increase of 7.5 percent from August 2011. Contracts on condos climbed 15.7 percent from a year ago, while contracts on detached homes went up 2.3 percent and contracts on townhomes increased 9.9 percent compared to August 2011.  

Median sales price by jurisdiction in the Washington area (RealEstate Business Intelligence)

The number of active listings continues to shrink to historic lows. There were only 9,191 active listings in the region last month, which were the fewest in eight years, down 35.8 percent from August 2011 and the lowest August since 2004. The 4,769 new listings entered in August were the fewest on record for that month, dating back to when the data was first tracked in 1997. 

Because of the low inventory, properties aren’t remaining on the market long. The median days on market was 26 last month compared to 37 in August 2011. The low supply also has impacted the sales-to-list price ratio, which rose to 96.2 percent last month, up from 94.2 percent in August 2011.

RBIntel cites persistent low inventory as the driver of these gains. The report states that “many people are likely keeping their homes off the market due to continued economic uncertainty, preferring to wait it out.”

It also points out that many homeowners face negative equity, which deters them from entering the market.