Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

U.S. Home Prices Rose 6% in First Quarter as Supply Tightened

Home prices in the U.S. increased 6 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier as competition heated up for a scarcity of listings.

Prices rose 1.4 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from the previous three months, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said in a statement Wednesday. In March, prices climbed 0.6 percent from February, matching the average estimate of 15 economists.

Job growth is firing up demand for real estate, pushing buyers into bidding wars for the tight supply of homes on the market. There were 1.83 million previously owned homes available for sale at the end of March, down 6.6 percent from a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors.

“Mortgage rates during the quarter remained slightly elevated relative to most of last year, but demand for homes remained very strong,” Andrew Leventis, deputy chief economist for the FHFA, said in the statement. “With housing inventories still languishing at extremely low levels, the strong demand led to another exceptionally large quarterly price increase.”

The FHFA index measures transactions for single-family properties financed with mortgages owned or securitized by government-sponsored Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It doesn’t provide prices. The national median price of an existing single-family home was $232,100 in the first quarter, up 6.9 percent from a year earlier, data from the Realtors group show.

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