WASHINGTON (May 15, 2017) — The strongest quarterly sales pace in exactly a decade put significant downward pressure on inventory levels and caused price growth to further accelerate during the first three months of 2017, according to the latest quarterly report by the National Association of Realtors®. Metro home prices have now accelerated for three consecutive quarters.
The national median existing single-family home price in the first quarter was $232,100, which is up 6.9 percent from the first quarter of 2016 ($217,200) and the fastest growth since the second quarter of 2015 (8.2 percent). The median price during the fourth quarter of 2016 increased 5.9 percent from the fourth quarter of 2015.
Single-family home prices last quarter increased in 85 percent of measured markets, with 152 out of 178 metropolitan statistical areas1 (MSAs) showing sales price gains in the first quarter compared with the first quarter of 2016. Twenty-five areas (14 percent) recorded lower median prices from a year earlier.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says continual supply shortages ignited faster price appreciation across the country in the first quarter. “Prospective buyers poured into the market to start the year, and while their increased presence led to a boost in sales, new listings failed to keep up and hovered around record lows all quarter,” he said. “Those able to successfully buy most likely had to outbid others – especially for those in the starter-home market – which in turn quickened price growth to the fastest quarterly pace in almost two years.”
Added Yun, “Several metro areas with the healthiest job gains in recent years continue to see a large upswing in buyer demand but lack the commensurate ramp up in new home construction. This is why many of these areas – in particular several parts of the South and West – are seeing unhealthy price appreciation that far exceeds incomes.”
Thirty metro areas in the first quarter (17 percent) experienced double-digit increases (unchanged from the fourth quarter of 2016). Overall, there were slightly fewer rising markets in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter of 2016, when price gains were recorded in 89 percent of metro areas.
Total existing-home sales3, including single family and condos, climbed 1.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.62 million in the first quarter (highest since first quarter of 2007 at 5.66 million) from 5.55 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, and are 5.0 percent higher than the 5.36 million pace during the first quarter of 2016.
At the end of the first quarter, there were 1.83 million existing homes available for sale2, which was 6.6 percent below the 1.96 million homes for sale at the end of the first quarter in 2016. The average supply during the first quarter was 3.7 months – down from 4.2 months in the first quarter of last year.
Despite a rise in the national family median income ($71,201)4, the combination of higher mortgage rates and home prices slightly weakened affordability compared to a year ago. To purchase a single-family home at the national median price, a buyer making a 5 percent down payment would need an income of $52,251, a 10 percent down payment would require an income of $49,501, and $44,001 would be needed for a 20 percent down payment.
“Last quarter’s robust pace of sales was especially impressive considering the affordability sting buyers experienced from higher prices and mortgage rates,” said Yun. “High demand is poised to continue heading into the summer as long as job gains continue. However, many metro areas need to see a significant rise in new and existing inventory to meet this demand and cool down price growth.”
The five most expensive housing markets in the first quarter were the San Jose, California, metro area, where the median existing single-family price was $1,070,000; San Francisco, $815,000; Anaheim-Santa Ana, California, $750,000; urban Honolulu, $746,000; and San Diego, $564,000.
The five lowest-cost metro areas in the first quarter were Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio, $79,200; Cumberland, Maryland, $81,800; Decatur, Illinois, $86,100; Elmira, New York, $90,000; and Binghamton, New York, $91,200.
Metro area condominium and cooperative prices – covering changes in 61 metro areas – showed the national median existing-condo price was $218,600 in the first quarter, up 7.1 percent from the first quarter of 2016 ($204,200). Eighty-five percent of metro areas showed gains in their median condo price from a year ago.
Total existing-home sales in the Northeast declined 2.2 percent in the first quarter but are 4.2 percent above the first quarter of 2016. The median existing single-family home price in the Northeast was $255,000 in the first quarter, up 2.2 percent from a year ago.
In the Midwest, existing-home sales dipped 4.3 percent in the first quarter but are 1.6 percent above a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the Midwest increased 5.7 percent to $176,600 in the first quarter from the same quarter a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the South jumped 5.8 percent in the first quarter and are 5.8 percent higher than the first quarter of 2016. The median existing single-family home price in the South was $209,000 in the first quarter, 8.8 percent above a year earlier.
In the West, existing-home sales rose 1.6 percent in the first quarter and are 7.4 percent above a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the West increased 8.4 percent to $342,500 in the first quarter from the first quarter of 2016.
The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing over 1.2 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 Realtor® 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 http://www.realtor.org/topics/metropolitan-median-area-prices-and-affordability/data. 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 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).
3 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.
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 4.0%.
NOTE: Existing-Home Sales for April will be released May 24, and the Pending Home Sales Index for April will be released May 31; release times are 10:00 a.m. ET.