WASHINGTON —The vast majority of metro areas saw gains in home prices and very small increases in inventory in the final quarter of 2019, according to the latest quarterly report by the National Association of Realtors.
Median single-family home prices increased year-over-year in 94% of measured markets in the fourth quarter, with 170 of 180 metropolitan statistical areas showing sales price gains. That is up from the 93% share in the third quarter of 2019. The national median existing single-family home price in the fourth quarter was $274,900, up 6.6% from the fourth quarter of 2018 ($258,000).
“It is challenging—especially for those potential buyers—where we have a good economy, low interest rates and a soaring stock market, yet are finding very few homes available for sale,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “We saw prices increase during every quarter of 2019 above wage growth.”
At the end of last quarter, 1.40 million existing homes were available for sale, 8.5% less than total inventory at the end of 2018’s fourth quarter. Average supply during the fourth quarter of 2019 was 3.5 months—down from 4.0 months in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Eighteen metro areas witnessed double-digit price growth last quarter, including Trenton, N.J. (18.2%), Boise City-Nampa, Idaho (13.7%), Gulfport-Biloxi, Miss. (11.8%), Kingston, N.Y. (11.2%) and Albuquerque, N.M. (11.1%). Some of the increases are due to the changes in the type of home that were sold during the quarter.
“Rising home values typically create wealth gains for existing homeowners as shown in NAR’s latest study, however, areas that are deemed ‘too expensive’ will obviously have trouble attracting residents and companies looking to do business there,” Yun said. “We need a good balance that benefits both current and future homeowners, but right now, the balance is still in favor of home sellers.”
Prices continue to rise even in America’s most expensive metro areas. Of the top 10 most costly metros, only San Jose saw a year-over-year decline in single-family sales price ($1.246 million; -0.3%). Other high-priced areas include San Francisco, Calif. ($990,000; 3.9%); Anaheim-Santa Ana, Calif. ($828,000; 3.6%); Urban Honolulu, Hawaii ($812,600; 0%); San Diego, Calif. ($655,000; 4.6%); Boulder, Colo. ($630,400; 6.4%); Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif. ($617,300, 7.2%); Seattle-Tacoma, Wash. ($528,800;8%); Nassau County, N.Y. ($496,600; 3.7%); and Boston-Cambridge, Mass. ($482,800; 4.9%).