The first quarter of 2017 saw the strongest quarterly home sales pace in a decade, according to the latest quarterly report from the National Association of Realtors.
This increase in home sales put downward pressure on housing inventory levels and caused home prices growth to accelerate its rate of increase in the first quarter, the report states. In fact, metro home prices now accelerated for three consecutive quarters.
The national median home price increased to $232,100, up 6.9% from the first quarter of 2016. This represents the fastest rate of growth since the second quarter of 2015.
“Prospective buyers poured into the market to start the year, and while their increased presence led to a boost in sales, new listings failed to keep up and hovered around record lows all quarter,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said. “Those able to successfully buy most likely had to outbid others, especially for those in the starter-home market, which in turn quickened price growth to the fastest quarterly pace in almost two years.”
Single family home prices increased in 85% of markets as 152 of 178 metropolitan statistical areas showed sales prices gains in the first quarter, the report states. However, in 14 MSAs, home prices decreased year-over-year.
“Several metro areas with the healthiest job gains in recent years continue to see a large upswing in buyer demand but lack the commensurate ramp up in new home construction,” Yun said. “This is why many of these areas, in particular several parts of the South and West, are seeing unhealthy price appreciation that far exceeds incomes.”
Total existing home sales, including single-family homes and condos, increased 1.4% in the first quarter to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.62 million, the highest rate since the first quarter of 2007. This is up from 5.55 million in the fourth quarter of 2016 and from 5.36 million in the first quarter of 2016.
Housing inventory, however, decreased 6.6% from 1.96 million homes for sale in the first quarter last year to 1.83 million this year. This average supply rested at 3.7 months in the first quarter, down from 4.2 months last year.
And while median income is increasing,, hitting a national average of $71,201, higher mortgage rates and home prices weakened affordability.
“Last quarter’s robust pace of sales was especially impressive considering the affordability sting buyers experienced from higher prices and mortgage rates,” Yun said. “High demand is poised to continue heading into the summer as long as job gains continue. However, many metro areas need to see a significant rise in new and existing inventory to meet this demand and cool down price growth.”