Metro house prices up less than 4% in Q1 compared to a year ago

by Steve Randall15 May 2019

House prices in metro markets nationwide were up 3.9% in the first quarter of 2019 compared to a year earlier; but there are some sizeable differences across individual markets.

The National Association of Realtors surveyed single-family home prices in 178 metros and found that prices were higher in 83% (153) than they were in Q1 2018.

There were still 13 metros that posted double-digit gains year-over-year, down from 14 in Q4 2018.

"Homeowners in the majority of markets are continuing to enjoy price gains, albeit at a slower rate of growth. A typical homeowner accumulated $9,500 in wealth over the past year," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

NAR’s latest quarterly report also shows that total existing-home sales increased 1.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.207 million in the first quarter, up from 5.143 million in the fourth quarter of 2018; and 5.4% lower than the 5.507 million-pace in the first quarter of 2018.

Most expensive markets
The five most expensive US metros for single-family homes in Q1 2019 by median price were: San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., $1,220,000; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif., $930,000; Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, Calif., $800,000; Urban Honolulu, Hawaii $794,100; and San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif., $620,000.

Meanwhile, the five lowest-cost metro areas in the fourth quarter were Decatur, Ill., $80,800; Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio, $89,200; Elmira, N.Y., $90,400; Cumberland, Md., $99,300; and Binghamton, N.Y., $107,200.

"There are vast home price differences among metro markets," Yun says. "The condition of extremely high home prices may not be sustainable in light of many alternative metro markets that are much more affordable.

Therefore, a shift in job search and residential relocations into more affordable regions of the country is likely in the future."

Supply still needed
At the end of Q1 2019 there were 1.68 million existing homes available for sale, 2.4% up from the 1.64 figure at the end of 2018's first quarter.

"More supply is needed to provide better homeownership opportunities, taming home price growth and widening the inventory choices for consumers. Housing Opportunity Zones could provide the necessary financial benefits for homebuilders to construct moderately priced-homes," Yun said.