WASHINGTON (February 13, 2018) — An uptick in existing-home sales in the final three months of 2017 pulled down housing inventory to an all-time low and kept home-price growth at its recent robust pace, according to the latest quarterly report by the National Association of REALTORS®.
The national median existing single-family home price in the fourth quarter was $247,800, which is up 5.3 percent from the fourth quarter of 2016 ($235,400). The median price during last year's third quarter climbed 5.6 percent from the third quarter of 2016.
Single-family home prices last quarter increased in 92 percent of measured markets, with 162 out of 177 metropolitan statistical areas1 (MSAs) showing sales price gains in the fourth quarter compared to a year ago. Twenty-six metro areas (15 percent) experienced double-digit increases (11 percent in the third quarter), and 18 metros eclipsed their previous peak sales price. Overall, home prices are now at their all-time high in 114 markets (64 percent).
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says 2017 capped off another year where home prices in most markets ascended at a steady clip amidst improving sales and worsening inventory conditions. "A majority of the country saw an upswing in buyer interest at the end of last year, which ultimately ended up putting even more strain on inventory levels and prices," he said. "Remarkably, home prices have risen a cumulative 48 percent since 2011, yet during this same timeframe, incomes are up only 15 percent. In the West region, where very healthy labor markets are driving demand, the gap is even wider."
Added Yun, "These consistent, multi-year price gains have certainly been great news for homeowners, and especially for those who were at one time in a negative equity situation; however, the shortage of new homes being built over the past decade is really burdening local markets and making homebuying less affordable."
Total existing-home sales2, including single family and condos, increased 4.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.62 million in the fourth quarter from 5.39 million in the third quarter, and are 1.3 percent higher than the 5.55 million pace during the fourth quarter of 2016.
At the end of the fourth quarter, there were 1.48 million existing homes available for sale3, which was 10.3 percent below the 1.65 million homes for sale at the end of the fourth quarter in 2016. The average supply during the fourth quarter was 3.5 months - down from 4.2 months in the fourth quarter of last year.
The national family median income rose to $74,4924 in the fourth quarter, but overall affordability still edged downward compared to a year ago because of the combination of rising mortgage rates and home prices. To purchase a single-family home at the national median price, a buyer making a 5 percent down payment would need an income of $55,585, a 10 percent down payment would require an income of $52,659, and $46,808 would be needed for a 20 percent down payment.
“While tight supply is expected to keep home prices on an upward trajectory in most metro areas in 2018, both the uptick in mortgage rates and the impact of the new tax law on some high-cost markets could cause price growth to moderate nationally," said Yun. "In areas where homebuilding has severely lagged job creation in recent years, it's going to be a slow slog before there's enough new construction to cool price appreciation to a pace that aligns more closely with incomes."
The five most expensive housing markets in the fourth quarter were the San Jose, California metro area, where the median existing single-family price was $1,270,000; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California, $920,000; Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, California, $785,000; urban Honolulu, $760,600; and San Diego-Carlsbad, $610,000.
The five lowest-cost metro areas in the fourth quarter were Cumberland, Maryland, $84,600; Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio, $90,200; Decatur, Illinois, $100,000; Binghamton, New York, $108,900; and Wichita Falls, Texas, $110,400.
Metro area condominium and cooperative prices - covering changes in 61 metro areas - showed the national median existing-condo price was $237,500 in the fourth quarter, up 7.0 percent from the fourth quarter of 2016 ($222,000). Eighty-four percent of metro areas showed gains in their median condo price from a year ago.
Total existing-home sales in the Northeast jumped 10.1 percent in the fourth quarter but are 0.4 percent below the fourth quarter of 2016. The median existing single-family home price in the Northeast was $268,100 in the fourth quarter, up 4.2 percent from a year ago.
In the Midwest, existing-home sales rose 6.0 percent in the fourth quarter and are 2.3 percent above a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the Midwest grew 7.2 percent to $193,800 in the fourth quarter from the same quarter a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the South increased 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter and are 1.8 percent higher than the fourth quarter of 2016. The median existing single-family home price in the South was $221,600 in the fourth quarter, 5.0 percent above a year earlier.
In the West, existing-home sales in the fourth quarter were at an annualized rate of 1.23 million (unchanged from the third quarter), up 0.3 percent from a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the West increased 7.2 percent to $374,400 in the fourth quarter from the fourth quarter of 2016.
The National Association of REALTORS®, "The Voice for Real Estate," is America's largest trade association, representing 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.
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NOTE: NAR releases quarterly median single-family price data for approximately 175 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). In some cases the MSA prices may not coincide with data released by state and local REALTORS® associations. Any discrepancy may be due to differences in geographic coverage, product mix, and timing. In the event of discrepancies, REALTORS® are advised that for business purposes, local data from their association may be more relevant.
Data tables for MSA home prices (single family and condo) are posted at https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/housing-statistics/metropolitan-median-area-prices-and-affordability . If insufficient data is reported for a MSA in particular quarter, it is listed as N/A. For areas not covered in the tables, please contact the local association of REALTORS®.
1 Areas are generally metropolitan statistical areas as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. NAR adheres to the OMB definitions, although in some areas an exact match is not possible from the available data. A list of counties included in MSA definitions is available at: http://www.census.gov/population/estimates/metro-city/List4.txt .
Regional median home prices are from a separate sampling that includes rural areas and portions of some smaller metros that are not included in this report; the regional percentage changes do not necessarily parallel changes in the larger metro areas. The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to seasonality in buying patterns. Quarter-to-quarter comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns.
Median price measurement reflects the types of homes that are selling during the quarter and can be skewed at times by changes in the sales mix. For example, changes in the level of distressed sales, which are heavily discounted, can vary notably in given markets and may affect percentage comparisons. Annual price measures generally smooth out any quarterly swings.
NAR began tracking of metropolitan area median single-family home prices in 1979; the metro area condo price series dates back to 1989.
Because there is a concentration of condos in high-cost metro areas, the national median condo price often is higher than the median single-family price. In a given market area, condos typically cost less than single-family homes. As the reporting sample expands in the future, additional areas will be included in the condo price report.
2 The seasonally adjusted annual rate for a particular quarter represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative sales pace for that quarter was maintained for four consecutive quarters. Total home sales include single family, townhomes, condominiums and co-operative housing.
3 Total inventory and month's supply data are available back through 1999, while single-family inventory and month's supply are available back to 1982 (prior to 1999, single-family sales accounted for more than 90 percent of transactions and condos were measured only on a quarterly basis).
Seasonally adjusted rates are used in reporting quarterly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, sales volume normally is higher in the summer and relatively light in winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and household buying patterns.
4 Income figures are rounded to the nearest hundred, based on NAR modeling of Census data. Qualifying income requirements are determined using several scenarios on downpayment percentages and assume 25 percent of gross income devoted to mortgage principal and interest at a mortgage interest rate of 3.9%.
NOTE: Existing-Home Sales for January will be released February 21, and the Pending Home Sales Index for January will be released February 28; release times are 10:00 a.m. ET.