Home price increase in 2018 as inventory lags

by Joe Ward

Home prices are creeping up across the country as inventory continues to hover near all-time lows, according to the National Association of Realtors first quarter report.

Total existing home sales declined slightly in the first quarter of 2018 versus the same time last year, but demand for available homes caused prices to spike. The national median single-family home price in the first quarter was $245,500, a 5.7 percent increase against the same time last year, NAR reports.

Home prices increased in 162 out of 178 metropolitan statistical areas studied by NAR and 53 metro areas (or 30 percent of areas surveyed) saw double-digit price increases, up from 15 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017.

There were 1.67 million homes for sale at the end of the first quarter, which is a 7 percent decrease from the end of 2017.

“The worsening inventory crunch through the first three months of the year inflicted even more upward pressure on home prices in a majority of markets,” Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said in a statement. “Following the same trend over the last couple of years, a strengthening job market and income gains are not being met by meaningful sales gains because of unrelenting supply and affordability headwinds.”

In the Northeast, home sales slipped 8.5 percent in the first quarter and are 8.1 percent below the same time last year, NAR reports. The median home price in the Northeast was $267,400, up 4.6 percent from the same time last year.

Midwest existing home sales fell 6.8 percent in the first quarter and are 1.8 percent below the price recorded a year ago. Home price jumped 6 percent year-over-year to $220,400.

In the South, home sales increased by 3.7 percent, the only region to post an increase in sales versus the fourth quarter of 2017, NAR reports. Prices jumped by 5.5 percent to $220,400.