Home Prices Rose in 89% of U.S. Metro Areas in Fourth Quarter

  • Competition heating up for record-low supply, Realtors say
  • Gains accelerated, with 31 areas seeing double-digit increases

Home price gains accelerated in the fourth quarter, with increases reported in 89 percent of U.S. metropolitan areas, as competition heated up for a record-low supply of listings, the National Association of Realtors said.

The median price of an existing single-family home rose from a year earlier in 158 of the 178 areas measured, the group said in a report Thursday. In the third quarter, 87 percent of metropolitan areas had price increases. Thirty-one regions had gains of 10 percent of more in the three months through December, up from 25 in the third quarter.

Job growth is fueling demand in a market starving for listings. The number of previously owned homes available for sale at the end of December dropped 6.3 percent from a year earlier to 1.65 million, the fewest since the Realtors group started tracking the data in 1999. It would take 3.9 months to sell those homes, down from 4.6 months a year earlier.

“Buyer interest stayed elevated in most areas thanks to mortgage rates under 4 percent for most of the year and the creation of 1.7 million new jobs edging the job market closer to full employment,” Lawrence Yun, the group’s chief economist, said in the report. “At the same time, the inability for supply to catch up with this demand drove prices higher and continued to put an affordability squeeze on those trying to reach the market.”

In the fourth quarter, the national median single-family home price was $235,000, up 5.7 percent from a year earlier, the Realtors group said.

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