It’s a good time to be a homeowner: Nearly two-thirds of housing markets across the country saw home prices at all-time highs in the fourth quarter of 2017, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Tuesday.
The national median existing single-family home price in the fourth quarter was $247,800, up 5.3 percent from a year ago. Ninety-two percent of the markets measured by NAR saw an uptick in single-family home prices. Twenty-six metros—or 15 percent—saw double-digit increases. Home prices are now at their all-time high in 64 percent of the markets NAR tracked.
“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,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Remarkably, home prices have risen a cumulative 48 percent since 2011, yet during this same time frame, incomes are up only 15 percent. In the West region, where very healthy labor markets are driving demand, the gap is even wider.”
The increase in home prices is “certainly great news for homeowners, and especially for those who were at one time in a negative equity situation,” Yun adds. “However, the shortage of new homes being built over the past decade is really burdening local markets and making homebuying less affordable.”
At the end of the fourth quarter, there were 1.48 million existing homes available for sale, which is 10.3 percent lower than a year ago.
“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,” says 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 national family median income increased to $74,492 in the fourth quarter. 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 a 20 percent down payment would require a $46,808 income, NAR reports.
Here’s a closer look at how existing-home sales fared in the fourth quarter of 2017:
- Northeast: Existing-home sales increased 10.1 percent in the fourth quarter but are 0.4 percent below levels a year ago. Median single-family home price: $268,100, a 4.2 percent increase from a year ago.
- Midwest: Existing-home sales rose 6 percent in the fourth quarter and are 2.3 percent higher than a year ago. Median single-family home price: $193,800, up from 7.2 percent a year ago.
- South: Existing-home sales increased 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter and are 1.8 percent higher than the fourth quarter of 2016. Median single-family home price: $221,600, up 5 percent from a year ago.
- West: Existing-home sales reached an annualized rate of 1.23 million, which is unchanged from the third quarter. Sales were up just 0.3 percent from a year ago. Median single-family home price: $374,400, up 7.2 percent from the fourth quarter of 2016.