More Metro Areas See Home Prices Rise in 1st Quarter

Home pricesA higher number of U.S. metropolitan areas saw home price increases in the first quarter of 2010, compared to the previous quarter – a 36 percent jump from 67 to 91 out of a total of 152 areas.
Of those 91 areas, 29 registered double-digit gains, according to the latest survey from the National Association of Realtors.
The numbers seem to indicate a stabilization of home prices, the NAR said. Showing price declines in the first quarter were 58 metro areas, with three areas unchanged.  All prices are compared with those from a year ago.
But some signs still point to a troubled recovery.
One third of NAR members reported that difficulty in obtaining mortgages was a big factor with their clients. Some said contracts had to be cancelled because of appraisals coming back at less than the price negotiated.
And 16 percent reported contracts that had to be renegotiated because of a low appraisal.
“As a result, the housing recovery isn’t as strong as it could be,” said NAR President Vicki Cox Golder.
The first quarter survey also found that the foreclosure crisis is having a significant impact on sales, and helping keep prices from rebounding in the hardest hit areas. Distressed homes, which typically are discounted by 15 percent relative to traditional homes, accounted for 36 percent of first quarter sales.
The national median price for an existing single-family home was fairly flat at $166,100, down 0.7 percent from the first quarter 2009 price of $167,300.
“This flattening in home prices is something we’ve been seeing in all of the home price measures lately, and quite clearly in this metro area price report,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.
Yun said homebuyer tax credits that expired April 30 were “very effective in drawing down excess inventory, with about one million additional sales resulting directly from the stimulus.”
Regionally, the Northeast fared best, with the median existing single-family home price rising 9.0 percent to $256,300 in the first quarter from the same quarter in 2009.
In the Midwest, the median existing single-family home price slipped 0.8 percent to $130,600 compared to a year ago. In the South, the median home price was $148,200, up 1.1 percent from a year ago. In the West, the median price was $210,200, which is 8.3 percent below a year ago.

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