Home prices continued to rise in the fourth quarter as inventories tightened


Home owners can rejoice in the fact home prices continued to climb in the fourth quarter.

Prices for existing homes increased 5.3 percent from the fourth quarter of 2016, according to the latest quarterly report from the National Association of Realtors.

An increase in sales, which pulled down inventory to an all-time low, is seen as the reason for growth remaining at a robust pace.

The national median existing single-family home price in the fourth quarter was $247,800.

According to the report, single-family home prices last quarter increased in 92 percent of measured markets.

"A majority of the country saw an upswing in buyer interest at the end of last year, which ultimately ended up putting even more strain on inventory levels and prices," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. "Remarkably, home prices have risen a cumulative 48 percent since 2011, yet during this same timeframe, incomes are up only 15 percent. In the West region, where very healthy labor markets are driving demand, the gap is even wider."

At the end of the fourth quarter, there were 1.48 million existing homes available for sale, which was 10.3 percent below the end of the fourth quarter the year before.

The most expensive housing market in the fourth quarter was the San Jose, California metro area, where the median existing single-family price was $1,270,000. The lowest was Cumberland, Maryland at $84,600.

Existing-Home Sales for January will be released Feb. 21, and the Pending Home Sales Index for January will be released Feb. 28; release times are 10:00 a.m. ET.