NEW YORK - The number of U.S. homes listed for sale fell nearly 2.0 percent in September compared to August, according to inventory data released by national real estate brokerage ZipRealty on Friday.

The number of homes listed for sale by the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) fell for the 15th consecutive month in September, the Emeryville, California-based ZipRealty reported.

The realty company also tracked a year-over-year decrease in housing inventories of 27.1 percent.

Stabilization of the hard-hit U.S. housing market is seen as key to an economic recovery in the United States.

The combined total number of single-family homes and condos listed for sale decreased in September from August by 1.8 percent, bringing the total number of active listings in 26 major U.S. markets to 642,308, the company said.

ZipRealty's Housing Inventory Index for September, compiled from local MLS data, showed that while most markets saw inventory decline, Baltimore, Maryland added 1.5 percent more properties in September compared to August, and Boston, Massachusetts increased by 2.2 percent.

ZipRealty said markets with significant month-over-month inventory declines include Austin, Texas, at 4.7 percent; Los Angeles, California, at 4.7 percent; Las Vegas, Nevada, at 4.4 percent; and Orange County, California, at 4 percent.

ZipRealty said Los Angeles, California continued to show signs of stabilization with falling inventory and rising list prices, while Phoenix, Arizona showed little to no movement in September inventory in addition to flat listing prices.

In Las Vegas, home listings continued to fall, declining 4.4 percent in September, but the median list price remained unchanged for the sixth consecutive month, indicating that the market may take longer to rebound, the company said.

(Reporting by Julie Haviv)