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Home prices in two-thirds of U.S. cities have hit record highs

UPDATED: Tue., Feb. 13, 2018, 6:49 p.m.

The San Francisco metro area posted the country’s second-highest median home price in the fourth quarter, according to the National Association of Realtors. (Associated Press)
The San Francisco metro area posted the country’s second-highest median home price in the fourth quarter, according to the National Association of Realtors. (Associated Press)

Home prices jumped to all-time fourth-quarter highs in almost two-thirds of U.S. cities as buyers battled for a record-low supply of listings.

Prices for single-family homes, which climbed 5.3 percent from a year earlier nationally, reached a peak in 64 percent of metropolitan areas measured, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday. Of the 177 regions in the group’s survey, 15 percent had double-digit price growth in median sales prices, up from 11 percent in the third quarter.

The Spokane-Spokane Valley metro area was among those posting a record high for the quarter. The median price for a single-family home in the area was $222,600 in the fourth quarter, an 8.4 percent increase over the last three months of 2016, according to the NAR.

Rob Higgins, executive director of the Spokane Association of Realtors, said the all-time quarterly record for the area came in 2017’s third quarter with an NRA-survey median sale price of $229,200.

Locally and nationally, home values have grown steadily as the improving job market drives demand for a scarcity of properties on the market. Based on tight inventories, Spokane area home seekers can expect the competitive market to persist this year, Jennifer Valerien, owner/broker of Re/Max Inland Empire and a Spokane Association of Realtors board member, said during an interview last month.

While prices jumped 48 percent nationally since 2011, incomes have climbed only 15 percent, putting purchases out of reach for many would-be buyers.

The consistent price gains “have certainly been great news for homeowners, and especially for those who were at one time in a negative equity situation,” Lawrence Yun, the NAR’s chief economist, said in a statement. “However, the shortage of new homes being built over the past decade is really burdening local markets and making homebuying less affordable.”

Sales of previously owned homes, including single-family houses and condos, increased 4.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.62 million in the fourth quarter, Realtors said. At the end of December, only 1.48 million existing homes were available for sale, 10.3 percent less than a year earlier.

The most expensive markets were San Jose, California, where the median income was $1.27 million, followed by San Francisco, the Irvine, California, area, Honolulu and San Diego. The Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area ranked eighth.