Home prices up big in some hardest-hit states

Treasury Dollar BillHome prices have been on an upswing in recent months. But the latest numbers are nonetheless jaw-dropping in the degree to which prices have risen, especially in some states that were hit hardest by the housing crisis.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported on Monday that during the fourth quarter of 2012, the median existing single-family home price showed the strongest year-over-year increase in seven years. The national median price was $ 178,900 in the fourth quarter, up 10 percent compared with $ 162,600 during the same period in 2011. That’s the strongest year-over-year gain since the fourth quarter of 2005.

A growing number of metropolitan areas had higher median home prices during the fourth quarter of 2012, as price rose in 133 of 152 metropolitan statistical areas during that period. In comparison, 120 metros showed year-over-year price increases in the third quarter of 2012.

A shrinking market share of lower-priced homes, including foreclosures and short sales generally sold at deep discounts, continued to account for some of the price growth, the NAR reported.

Read: Homebuyer 2.0: New market, new rules

The NAR also reported on Monday that total sales of existing single-family houses and condominiums rose 5 percent in the fourth quarter to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 4.9 million homes, compared with 4.66 million in the third quarter.

“Home sales are on a sustained uptrend,” Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said in a statement. Yun explained that sales are being fueled by pent-up demand, job creation, increased affordability and faster-rising rents.

CoreLogic reports much of the same

Separately, nationwide, home prices jumped 8.3 percent in December 2012 compared with December 2011, according to a CoreLogic report released last week. That jump was the 10th consecutive monthly rise and the biggest increase since May 2006.

What’s more, the five states with the highest rate of appreciation were all in double-digits. Values were up 20.2 percent in Arizona, 15.3 percent in Nevada, 14.6 percent in Idaho, 12.6 percent in California and 12.5 percent in Hawaii.

Only four states posted price depreciations. Values dropped 3.4 percent in Delaware, 2.7 percent in Illinois, 0.9 percent in New Jersey and 0.5 percent in Pennsylvania.

CoreLogic CEO Anand Nallathambi said in a statement that the U.S is heading into 2013 with home prices on the rebound.

“The upward trend in 2012 was broad-based with 46 of 50 states registering gains for the year,” Nallathambi said. “All signals point to a continued improvement in the fundamentals underpinning the U.S. housing market recovery.”

Whether price appreciation will continue, hold steady or reverse course is an open question. The answer will depend on buyers’ confidence, the pace of new-home construction, mortgage rates, and of course whether more people decide to sell their homes, increasing the supply of for-sale properties.

HSH Associates Financial News Blog

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