U.S. Home Prices Rose 5.8% in Fourth Quarter From Prior Year

  • Nevada leads state gains with a 12.7% increase, FHFA says
  • San Francisco is top-performing metro area, with 20.7% jump

U.S. home prices rose 5.8 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier as buyers competed for a tight supply of listings.

Prices climbed 1.4 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from the previous three months, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said in a report Thursday from Washington.

Improving employment has helped bring more buyers into a market with fewer choices. There were 1.79 million previously owned homes for sale at the end of the fourth quarter, down 3.8 percent from a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors. The average supply for the quarter was 4.6 months. Less than five months is considered a tight market, the Realtors group has said.

“Instability in financial markets did not seem to put much of a drag on home prices in the fourth quarter,” Andrew Leventis, the FHFA’s supervisory economist, said in a statement. The increase from the previous three months “was in line with the extremely steady -- but historically elevated -- appreciation rates we have been observing for several years now.”

Prices in December rose 0.4 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from November, according to the FHFA. The average estimate of 19 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for a 0.6 percent gain.

Biggest Gains

In the fourth quarter, prices rose from a year earlier in every state and the District of Columbia. Nevada had the biggest increase, at 12.7 percent. Colorado and Idaho followed, at 10.9 percent and 10.7 percent, respectively.

Among the 100 most-populated metropolitan areas, prices jumped 20.7 percent from a year earlier in the San Francisco area. The biggest decline was in New Haven, Connecticut, where prices fell 1.5 percent.

The FHFA index measures transactions for single-family properties financed with mortgages owned or securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It doesn’t provide specific prices. The median price of an existing single-family home in the U.S. was $222,700 in the fourth quarter, up 6.9 percent from a year earlier, according to the Realtors group.

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