Median home prices dipped month-over-month in July, but still experienced a sharp rise from last year, according RE/MAX’s latest housing survey covering 52 metropolitan areas. At the same time, the inventory situation eased, while sales remained strong.

Homes in July sold for a median price of $189,950, down 2.1 percent from June, but up by 11.5 percent from July 2012. The annual increase marks 18 consecutive months of yearly gains, and 49 out of the 52 metro saw improvements over the last year.

While inventory was down compared to last year and the prior month, the decreases were more conservative, which means home price gains should slow, according to RE/MAX.

July inventory was 1.3 percent below the level in June and 20.7 percent lower compared to a year ago.

However, inventory expanded month-over-month in 18 of the metros tracked.

Currently, it would take four months to clear inventory available for sale, but in San Francisco, Denver, and Los Angeles, supply was under two months.

Sales in July were positive all around, with closed transactions climbing 17 percent from last year and inching up by 1.5 percent from the prior month. The annual increase represents the 25th straight month sales were higher.

Overall, 48 of the 52 metro areas saw higher sales over the last year. Thirty-nine of those metros saw double-digit increases, including Albuquerque (+43.8 percent); Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina (+38.7 percent); Chicago (+38.3 percent); Boise, Idaho (+36.8 percent); Providence, Rhode Island (+35.5 percent); and Indianapolis (+30.5 percent).

by Esther Cho