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U.S. house prices rise in Q1, but at slower pace

2019-05-15 05:24

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CHICAGO, May 14 (Xinhua) -- U.S. median existing single-family home price in the first quarter of 2019 was 254,800 U.S. dollars, up 3.9 percent from the same period in 2018, according to the latest report released on Tuesday by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Prices of single-family home, also called detached house, increased in 153 of 178 metropolitan statistical areas in Q1, with 13 metro areas seeing double-digit percentage increases.

As inventory also increased, the prices rose but at a slower pace than the previous Q1, when the median price stood at 245,300 dollars with a year-on-year rise of 5.7 percent.

Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist, said the first quarter was beneficial to U.S. homeowners, who gained an average of 9,500 dollars in wealth over the past year.

Total existing-home sales, including single-family homes and condos, increased 1.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.207 million in Q1 2019, up from 5.143 million in Q4 2018.

At the end of Q1 2019, 1.68 million existing homes were available for sale, 2.4 percent up from the 1.64 million at the end of Q1 2018.

U.S. national family median income rose to 77,752 dollars in the first quarter, while higher home prices caused overall affordability to decrease from last year, according to the quarterly report.

The most expensive market was the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara metro areas, where the median price was 1.22 million dollars. The cheapest was Decatur, Illinois, with a median price of 80,800 dollars.

"There are vast home price differences among metro markets," said Yun, adding that extremely high home prices may not be sustainable. Since there are many alternative metro markets which are more affordable, a shift in job search and residential relocations into more affordable regions of the country is likely in the future, the NAR's chief economist predicts.

As for regional breakdown, the median existing single-family home price in Q1 was 277,200 dollars in the Northeast, 194,100 dollars in the Midwest, 225,700 dollars in the South, and 384,300 dollars in the West.

A recent survey also indicates rising inventory as more homeowners want to list their properties for sale.

According to the survey of 1,400 U.S. homeowners commissioned by personal-finance website NerdWallet, more than 2 in 5 homeowners (44 percent) plan to sell their houses in the next 18 months, citing recent shifts in the housing market have them selling sooner than initially planned.

"Homeowners can see that we're moving away from a strong seller's market in many areas. So their feelings and motivations are shifting too," NerdWallet home expert Holden Lewis was quoted as saying.
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