Tight Supplies Put Home Prices on the Move

Home prices posted solid gains in the fourth quarter of 2014, with the majority of metro areas seeing a slightly stronger price growth, propelled by tight housing supplies, low interest rates, and a strengthening job market, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ latest quarterly report.

The national median existing single-family home price was $208,700 in the fourth quarter, up 6 percent year-over-year, NAR reports.

The median existing single-family home price rose in 150 out of the 175 metro markets tracked – or 86 percent. That marks a stronger price gain compared to the third quarter when 73 percent of the metro areas had posted increases. What’s more, 24 areas – or 14 percent – saw double-digit increases in the fourth quarter.

“Home prices in metro areas throughout the country continue to show solid price growth, up 25 percent over the past three years on average,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “This is good news for current home owners, but remains a challenge for buyers who are seeing home prices continue to outpace their wages. Low interest rates helped preserve affordability last quarter, but it’ll take stronger income gains and more housing supply to help meet the pent-up demand for buying.”

Meanwhile, total existing-home sales – including single-family and condo – fell 1 percent in the fourth quarter to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.07 million. But existing home-sales are still 2.6 percent higher year-over-year, according to NAR’s housing report.

By the end of the fourth quarter, 1.85 million existing homes were available for sale, which is slightly below the 2.01 million homes for-sale during the fourth quarter of 2013. The average supply was 4.9 months in the fourth quarter. Most economists consider a supply of 6 to 7 months a healthy balance of supply between buyers and sellers.

“Despite affordable housing conditions in most of the country, an upward pressure on home prices still persists in some metro areas – particularly in the West – where the current supply of new and existing-homes for sale is failing to keep pace with overall demand and growing populations,” Yun says. “Unless homebuilders significantly boost construction, housing supply shortages could develop and lead to further price acceleration this spring.”

5 Priciest Markets in the Fourth Quarter

The following were the most expensive housing markets in the fourth quarter:

  1. San Jose, Calif. metro: $855,000 (median existing single-family home price)
  2. San Francisco: $742,900
  3. Honolulu: $701,300
  4. Anaheim-Santa Ana, Calif.: $688,500
  5. San Diego: $493,100

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