Home Prices Up, Prices Stabilizing

Average existing single-family home prices are solidifying in a number of metropolitan areas, as a declining inventory and increasing sales are creating more of a balance on the home-buying front. The median single-family house price rose in 74 of the 146 metropolitan statistical areas based on 2012 first-quarter closing, compared to closings in the first quarter of 2011; another 72 areas experienced price declines.

Economic reports reveal that there is significant volatility in the performance of home prices. This is because of the recent upswing in some home buyer markets—also, more home owners are purchasing distressed properties. There is also a lag in home sales, because many of the purchase transactions for these homes were finalized in the previous quarter. Home prices are expected to improve in the near future, since many potential owners are successfully negotiating high home prices. There is a decline in inventory supply as well, which will also work to improve the price of homes.

In the first quarter, the national median existing single-family house price was 158,100. This is 0.4 percent lower than the average home price of $158,700 in 2011. The median price was determined by the fact that half of the homes on the market sold for more than this price, and half sold for less. Short sales and foreclosures accounted for 32 percent of first quarter sales, as opposed to 38 percent in the first quarter of the previous year.

As far as condo sales go, the average sale price was $157,200 in the first quarter. This is a 3.4 percent increase from sales in the first quarter of 2011. Eighteen metropolitan areas showed an increase in their median condo price from a year ago, while 34 areas has a decline in price.

Regions of the country experienced various price fluctuations as well. For instance, in the Northeast, sales increased by 8.6 percent in this year’s first quarter; this is 6.6 percent above sales in the first quarter of 2011. The average price for single family home in the Northeast dropped 3.2 percent from first-quarter 2011, and is now $226,300.

Midwest home sales are 11.7 percent higher than they were a year ago, and have risen 5.5 percent in this year’s first quarter. This boasts an 0.8 percent from 2011; the current single home family price in this part of the country is now $125,300.

In the Southern and Western regions of the U.S., existing home sale prices have increased 2.1 and 5.9 percent, respectively.  The South experienced a 4.1 increase since the first quarter of 2011; sales in the Western U.S. increased 1.4 percent from a year ago. The average price of a home in the South is now $143,600; homes in the West cost an average of $196,200.

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