The FINANCIAL -- A promising climb in home sales throughout the country amidst insufficient supply caused home prices to steadily rise in most metro areas during the second quarter, according to the latest quarterly report by the National Association of Realtors.
The median existing single-family home price increased in 93 percent of measured markets1, with 163 out of 176 metropolitan statistical areas2 (MSAs) showing gains based on closings in the second quarter compared with the second quarter of 2014. Thirteen areas (7 percent) recorded lower median prices from a year earlier.
The number of rising markets in the second quarter increased compared to the first quarter, when price gains were recorded in 85 percent of metro areas. Thirty-four metro areas in the second quarter (19 percent) experienced double-digit increases, a decline from the 51 metro areas in the first quarter. Nineteen metro areas (11 percent) experienced double-digit increases in the second quarter of 2014.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the housing market has shifted into a higher gear in recent months. "Steady rent increases, the slow rise in mortgage rates and stronger local job markets fueled demand throughout most of the country this spring," he said. "While this led to a boost in sales paces not seen since before the downturn, overall supply failed to keep up and pushed prices higher in a majority of metro areas."
Adds Yun, "With home prices and rents continuing to rise and wages showing only modest growth, declining affordability remains a hurdle for renters considering homeownership — especially in higher-priced markets."
The national median existing single-family home price in the second quarter was $229,400, up 8.2 percent from the second quarter of 2014 ($212,000). The median price during the first quarter of this year increased 7.1 percent from a year earlier.
The five most expensive housing markets in the second quarter were the San Jose, Calif., metro area, where the median existing single-family price was $980,000; San Francisco, $841,600; Anaheim-Santa Ana, Calif., $685,700; Honolulu, $698,600; and San Diego, $547,800.
The five lowest-cost metro areas in the second quarter were Cumberland, Md., where the median single-family home price was $82,400; Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio, $85,000; Rockford, Ill., $94,700; Decatur, Ill., $96,000; and Elmira, N.Y., $98,300.
Total existing-home sales3, including single family and condo, increased 6.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.30 million in the second quarter from 4.97 million in the first quarter, and are 8.5 percent higher than the 4.89 million pace during the second quarter of 2014.
"The ongoing rise in home values in recent years has greatly benefited homeowners by increasing their household wealth," says Yun. "In the meantime, inequality is growing in America because the downward trend in the homeownership rate means these equity gains are going to fewer households."
At the end of the second quarter, there were 2.30 million existing homes available for sale4, slightly above the 2.29 million homes for sale at the end of the second quarter in 2014. The average supply during the second quarter was 5.1 months — down from 5.5 months a year ago.
Metro area condominium and cooperative prices — covering changes in 61 metro areas — showed the national median existing-condo price was $217,400 in the second quarter, up 3.1 percent from the second quarter of 2014 ($210,800). Fifty metro areas (82 percent) showed gains in their median condo price from a year ago; 11 areas had declines.
Rising home prices weighed on affordability in the second quarter compared to the second quarter of last year despite an uptick in the national family median income ($66,637)5. To purchase a single-family home at the national median price, a buyer making a 5 percent downpayment would need an income of $49,195, a 10 percent downpayment would require an income of $46,605, and $41,427 would be needed for a 20 percent downpayment.
NAR President Chris Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Ark., says Realtors® are reporting strong competition and limited days on market for available homes — especially at the entry-level price range. "Buyers should work with their Realtor to deploy a negotiation strategy that helps their offer stand out," he said. "If a bidding war occurs, it's important for the buyer to stay patient and only counteroffer up to what he or she can comfortably afford. It's better to walk away and wait for the right home instead of being in a situation where one has purchased a home above their means."
Total existing-home sales in the Northeast increased 10.3 percent in the second quarter and are 8.6 percent above the second quarter of 2014. The median existing single-family home price in the Northeast was $269,300 in the second quarter, up 5.2 percent from a year ago.
In the Midwest, existing-home sales jumped 13.4 percent in the second quarter and are 12.7 percent higher than a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the Midwest increased 8.7 percent to $182,000 in the second quarter from the same quarter a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the South fell rose 1.1 percent in the second quarter and are 6.3 percent above the second quarter of 2014. The median existing single-family home price in the South was $202,900 in the second quarter, 8.7 percent above a year earlier.
In the West, existing-home sales climbed 8.1 percent in the second quarter and are 8.1 percent above a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the West increased 9.6 percent to $325,200 in the second quarter from the second quarter of 2014.