According to the latest quarterly report by the National Association of Realtors, U.S. housing inventory increased and metro market prices rose in the first quarter of 2019, but at a slower pace than the previous 4th quarter of 2018. The national median existing single-family home price in the first quarter was $254,800, up 3.9% from the first quarter of 2018 ($245,300).
Single-family home prices increased in 86% of measured markets last quarter, with 153 of 178 metropolitan statistical areas1 showing sales price gains compared to the first quarter of a year ago. Thirteen metro areas (7%) experienced double-digit increases, down from 14 in 2018's fourth quarter.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the first quarter has been beneficial to U.S. homeowners. "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," he said.
Total existing-home sales, including single family homes and condos, 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. That is 5.4% lower than the 5.507 million-pace in the first quarter of 2018.
At the end of 2019's first quarter, 1.68 million existing homes were available for sale, 2.4% up from the 1.64 figure at the end of 2018's first quarter. Average supply during the first quarter of 2019 was 3.8 months - up from 3.5 months in the first quarter of 2018.
National family median income rose to $77,752 in the first quarter, while higher home prices caused overall affordability to decrease from last year. A buyer making a 5% down payment would need an income of $60,143 to purchase a single-family home at the national median price, while a 10% down payment would require an income of $56,978, and $50,647 would be necessary for a 20% down payment.
The five most expensive housing markets in the first quarter were the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., metro area, where the median existing single-family price was $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.
"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."
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.
Yun continues to call on the construction industry to develop more affordable housing units, which he says will combat slower price gains and buyer pullback. "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. Regional Breakdown
- Total existing-home sales in the Northeast sat at an annual rate of 683,000 (down 1.4% from last quarter) and are down only 1.0% from a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the Northeast was $277,200 in the first quarter, up 3.7% from a year ago.
- In the Midwest, existing-home sales fell 4.0% in the first quarter and are 5.5% below a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the Midwest sat at $194,100, a 3.9% increase from the first quarter of 2018.
- Existing-home sales in the South increased 4.3% in the first quarter but were 4.0% lower than the first quarter of 2018. The median existing single-family home price in the South was $225,700 in the fourth quarter, 2.5% above a year ago.
- In the West, existing-home sales in the first quarter grew by 2.8% and are 10.7% below a year ago. The median existing single-family home price in the West increased 3.5% year-over-year to $384,300.