Realtor Data Shows Prices Rising in One Third of Top Cities During First Quarter

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One out of three metropolitan areas in the United States showed rising home prices in the first quarter of this year, according to the latest survey by the National Association of Realtors.
Gallery: See Which Markets Are Rising Near You
In the first quarter, 48 out of 149 metropolitan statistical areas showed higher median existing single-family home prices from a year earlier, 100 had price declines and one was unchanged. NAR's

One out of three metropolitan areas in the United States showed rising home prices in the first quarter of this year, according to the latest survey by the National Association of Realtors.

Gallery: See Which Markets Are Rising Near You

In the first quarter, 48 out of 149 metropolitan statistical areas showed higher median existing single-family home prices from a year earlier, 100 had price declines and one was unchanged. NAR's track of metro area home prices dates back to 1979.

During the first quarter, the largest single-family home price increase was the Binghamton, N.Y., area, where the median price of $109,700 rose 11.8 percent from a year ago. Next was Peoria, Ill., at $119,000, up 10.4 percent from the first quarter of 2007, followed by the Spartanburg, S.C., area, where the first-quarter median price increased 10.1 percent to $130,300.

In the condo sector, metro area condominium and cooperative prices -- covering changes in 55 metro areas -- showed the national median existing-condo price was $216,900 in the first quarter, down 3.0 percent from $223,700 in the first quarter of 2007. Twenty-three of the 55 markets showed annual increases in the median condo price, while 31 areas had price declines and one was unchanged.

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The strongest condo price increase was in Bismarck, N.D., where the first quarter price of $124,900 rose 36.4 percent from a year earlier, followed by the New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner area of Louisiana, at $170,500, up 15.3 percent, and Wichita, Kan., where the median condo price of $106,600 rose 11.7 percent from the first quarter of 2007.

Gallery: See Which Markets Are Rising Near You

Region by Region

North East: Regionally, the median existing single-family home price in the Northeast rose 3.2 percent to $280,000 in the first quarter from the same period in 2007. After Binghamton, the strongest price increase in the Northeast was in Elmira, N.Y., at $82,500, up 9.6 percent from the first quarter of 2007, followed by Glens Falls, N.Y., with a median price of $163,100, up 7.7 percent.

South: In the South, the median existing single-family home price was $164,200 in the first quarter, down 7.5 percent from a year earlier. After Spartanburg, the strongest price increases in the South were three areas in Texas: El Paso, at $134,600, up 8.5 percent from a year ago, followed by the Amarillo area with an 8.2 percent gain to $122,200, and Beaumont-Port Arthur, at $122,900, up 6.1 percent.

Midwest: The median existing single-family home price in the Midwest declined 7.9 percent to $142,700 in the first quarter from the same period in 2007. After Peoria, the strongest metro price increases in the Midwest were in the Decatur area, where the median price of $79,400 was 4.2 percent higher than a year ago, and Springfield, Ill., at $172,200, also up 4.2 percent. Next was the Wichita, Kansas, area, at $112,700, up 4.0 percent from the first quarter of 2007.

West: In the West, the median existing single-family home price was $296,300 in the first quarter, which is 12.3 percent below a year ago. The strongest metro price increase in the West was in the Yakima, Wash., area, at $148,400, up 9.0 percent from a year ago, followed by Farmington, N.M., at $190,000, up 6.3 percent, and the Salt Lake City area, at $225,700, up 3.5 percent from the first quarter of 2007.

Gallery: See Which Markets Are Rising Near You

Affordability

Median single-family home prices ranged from $65,400 in the Saginaw-Saginaw Township North area of Michigan, to nearly 12 times that amount in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area of California, where the median price was $780,000. The second most expensive area was San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, at $701,700, followed by Honolulu at $620,000.

Other markets on the low end of the scale included the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman area of Ohio and Pennsylvania at $67,700, and Decatur, Ill., with a first-quarter median price of $79,400.

Seller Outlook

A proportionately larger slowdown in home sales from a year ago in high-cost markets is continuing to drag down the aggregate national median price. In the first quarter, the median existing single-family home price was $196,300, down 7.7 percent from the first quarter of 2007 when the median price was $212,600. The national median normally is a typical market

price, where half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the numbers don't tell the whole story. "These are highly unusual results because there were very few jumbo loan originations in the latest quarter, so sales are much slower in high-cost areas, and at the same time foreclosures related to subprime mortgages rose," he said. "Neighborhoods with little subprime exposure are

holding on very well, while prices have fallen in neighborhoods with a wide prevalence of subprime loans because more foreclosed properties are being sold at discounted prices."

Yun pointed out that homeowners with subprime loans account for less than 10 percent of all homeowners. "Even so, subprime mortgages account for more than half of all foreclosures. Sharp price declines are principally in neighborhoods where subprime lending has been widely prevalent," he said.

The typical seller in the first quarter, who purchased their home six years ago, saw a sizable equity gain despite a price drop from a year ago. The median increase in value for sellers who purchased that home in the first quarter of 2002 is 23.8 percent, and the median home equity

accumulation is $37,700.

"The typical home buyer today plans to own that property for 10 years, and with that kind of long-term view most people will do quite well," Gaylord said. "Inventories have stabilized and mortgage availability is beginning to improve, so we expect overall prices to go positive during the second half of the year."

Total state existing-home sales, including single-family and condo, were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.95 million units in the first quarter, down 0.9 percent from an upwardly revised 5.00 million in the fourth quarter, and are 22.2 percent below a 6.36 million-unit pace in the first quarter of 2007.

For more, go to realtor.org

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