The median price for existing single-family homes was up in 85% of markets measured by the NAR, with 148 out of 174 metro areas showing gains over the first quarter of 2014. Twenty-five areas, or 14% of those surveyed, showed lower median prices.
Fifty-one metro areas saw double-digit increases, compared to only 24 metro areas in the fourth quarter.
“Sales activity to start the year was noticeably higher than a year ago,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “However, stronger demand without increasing supply led to faster price growth in many markets. Sales could soften slightly in some of these markets seeing sharp price appreciation unless housing supply markedly improves and tempers its unhealthy levels of growth.”
The national median price for an existing single-family home rose 7.4% year over year in the first quarter to $205,200. There were 2 million existing homes for sale at the end of the quarter, slightly up from Q1 of 2014’s 1.96 million. The average supply during the first quarter was 4.6 months – still well short of a healthy supply of six to seven months.
“Homeowners throughout the country have enjoyed accumulating household wealth through the steady rise in home values in the past few years,” Yun said. “However, some homeowners are hesitant to move up and sell because they aren't confident they'll find another home to buy. This trend – in addition to subpar homebuilding activity – is leading to the ongoing inventory shortages and subsequent run-up in prices seen in many markets.”
But low interest rates are keeping home sales brisk, said NAR President Chris Polychron. “Realtors are reporting increased foot traffic this spring as more consumers are feeling confident about their financial situation and looking to lock in before rates eventually start to climb,” Poloycron said.
The five most expensive markets in the first quarter were San Jose, Calif., with a median home price of $900,000; San Francisco ($748,300); Honolulu ($699,300); Anaheim-Santa Ana, Calif. ($685,700); and San Diego ($510,300).
The least expensive metro areas were Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio ($64,300); Cumberland, Md. ($71,600); Rockford, Ill. ($78,600); Decatur, Ill. ($82,200); and Toledo, Ohio ($83,800).
A number of metro areas experienced double-digit home price appreciation compared to the last quarter, according to the National Association of Realtors.