Median Existing-Home Price at $178,900, Up 10% from Year Ago

Median Existing-Home Price at $178,900, Up 10% from Year Ago The median price of existing U.S. single-family homes was $178,900 in the fourth quarter of 2012, up 10 percent from $162,600 in the fourth quarter of 2011.
That’s the strongest year-over-year price jump since the fourth quarter of 2005 when the median price jumped 13.6 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
In the third quarter of last year, the price rose 8.8 percent from a year earlier.
The NAR’s national Housing Affordability Index rose to a record high 193.5 in 2012, from 186.4 in 2011. The index is based on a mix of factors, including median home price, median family income and average effective mortgage interest rate. The higher the index, the stronger household purchasing power. Record-keeping dates back to 1970.
The median price is where half of the homes sold for more and half sold for less. Medians are more typical than average prices,  which are skewed higher by a relatively small share of upper-end transactions, Realtors say.
The median home price increased in 133 out of 152 metropolitan areas based on closings in the fourth quarter, compared with the same quarter in 2011, while 19 areas had price declines.
In the third quarter of last year, 120 areas showed increases from a year earlier, while in the fourth quarter of 2011 only 29 metro areas were up.
“Home sales are being fueled by a pent-up demand and job creation, along with still favorable affordability conditions and rents rising at faster rates,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Our population has been growing faster than overall housing stock, so supply and demand dynamics are very much at play.”
Total existing-home sales, including single-family and condo, increased 5.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.90 million in the fourth quarter, from 4.66 million in the third quarter.
Sales were 12.1 percent above the 4.37 million pace during the fourth quarter of 2011. Sales in the fourth quarter of 2012 were at the highest level since the fourth quarter of 2009 when they reached 4.95 million.

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