Nearly all of the nation’s metro areas saw price growth and had minimal inventory increases in the first quarter of 2020, according to the latest quarterly report by the National Association of Realtors
Median single-family home prices increased year-over-year in 96% of measured markets in the first quarter, with 174 of 181 metropolitan statistical areas1 showing sales price gains. That is an increase from the 94% share seen in the fourth quarter of 2019. The national median existing single-family home price in the first quarter of 2020 was $274,600, up 7.7% from the first quarter of 2019 ($254,900), according to a NAR news release.
Forty-six metros, mostly in the West and South regions, saw prices increase by double-digits. These areas include Boise City, Idaho (18.1%), Eugene, Ore. (14.5%) and Colorado Springs, Colo. (14.4%), among others.
“The first quarter price jumps mostly reflect conditions prior to the coronavirus outbreak and show the strength of the housing demand prior to the pandemic,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist in the news release. “Even now, due to very limited listings, home prices are showing no signs of buckling.”
In March, the median sales price of existing homes rose 8% on a year-over-year basis. Yun says the strong desire for housing, paired with the dire inventory totals contributed to higher home prices. “Supply is extremely limited, and there are simply not as many homes for sale to meet the demand among potential buyers,” he said in the release. “More supply and more listings are needed to provide faster recovery for the economy.”
At the end of last quarter, 1.50 million existing homes were available for sale,2 10.2% lower than total inventory at the end of 2019’s first quarter. As of March 2020, housing inventory totals were equivalent to 3.4 months at the current sales pace.
Metro areas that were already deemed the most expensive also saw price jumps in the first quarter. In the West region, median sales prices increased from one year ago in San Jose, Calif. ($1,350,0000; 10.7%); San Francisco, Calif. ($985,000; 5.9%); Anaheim, Calif. ($875,000; 9.4%); San Diego, Calif. ($670,000; 8.1%); Boulder, Colo. (622,600; 3.1%); Los Angeles, Calif. ($592,800; 8.1%) and Seattle, Wash. ($554,400; 11.5%), according to NAR.
“The fast-rising home prices are not healthy, so more homebuilding needs to take place as the economy begins to reopen,” Yun said in the news release. “Mortgage rates are at historic lows and those with secure employment will be attracted to the market.”
Metro areas with year-over-year price declines were marginal, which decreases less than 3%. Those areas include, among others, Bloomington, Ill. (-1.8%); Shreveport-Bossier City, La. (-2.1%) and Bowling Green, Ky. (-2.7%).
Median single-family sales prices were higher across all regions compared to one year ago. The Northeast saw a rise of 9.7%, while the Midwest, the South, and the West each had an individual increase of 7.5%.
Lower Mortgage Rates Led to Better Home Affordability
Lower mortgage rates made home purchases more affordable in both 2019 and in the first quarter of 2020. The 30-year fixed-rate averaged 3.57% in the first quarter of 2020, down from 4.62% one year ago. The average monthly mortgage payment on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 20% down payment was $995, down from $1,048 a year ago. This is equivalent to 15% of the median family income of $79,662, down from 16.1% one year ago. (Housing expenses are considered a cost burden if the cost is more than 30% of income.)
To afford a typical mortgage payment, a given family needs to spend no more than 25% of income on its mortgage3 payment (for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 20% down payment). The income that is needed for this scenario decreased to $47,760,4 down from $50,304 one year ago.
In 135 of the 181 metro areas, a family needed less than $50,000 to afford a home in the first quarter of 2020, assuming a 20% down payment. However, in the most expensive metro areas, a given family needed over $100,000 to afford a home. This was the case in San-Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. ($235,179); San Francisco, Calif. ($171,593); Anaheim, Calif. ($152,431); Urban Honolulu, Hawaii ($137,414); San Diego, Calif. ($116,718); Boulder, Colo. ($108,461) and Los Angeles, Calif. ($103, 270).
NOTE: NAR releases quarterly median single-family price data for approximately 175 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). In some cases, the MSA prices may not coincide with data released by state and local Realtor® associations. Any discrepancy may be due to differences in geographic coverage, product mix, and timing. In the event of discrepancies, Realtors® are advised that for business purposes, local data from their association may be more relevant.
Data tables for MSA home prices (single-family and condo) are posted at https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/housing-statistics/metropolitan-median-area-prices-and-affordability. If insufficient data is reported for an MSA in a particular quarter, it is listed as N/A. For areas not covered in the tables, please contact the local association of Realtors.
1 Areas are generally metropolitan statistical areas as defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. NAR adheres to the OMB definitions, although in some areas an exact match is not possible from the available data. A list of counties included in MSA definitions is available at http://www.census.gov/population/estimates/metro-city/List4.txt(link is external).
Regional median home prices are from a separate sampling that includes rural areas and portions of some smaller metros that are not included in this report; the regional percentage changes do not necessarily parallel changes in the larger metro areas. The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to seasonality in buying patterns. Quarter-to-quarter comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns.
Median price measurement reflects the types of homes that are selling during the quarter and can be skewed at times by changes in the sales mix. For example, changes in the level of distressed sales, which are heavily discounted, can vary notably in given markets and may affect percentage comparisons. Annual price measures generally smooth out any quarterly swings.
NAR began tracking of metropolitan area median single-family home prices in 1979; the metro area condo price series dates back to 1989.
Because there is a concentration of condos in high-cost metro areas, the national median condo price often is higher than the median single-family price. In a given market area, condos typically cost less than single-family homes. As the reporting sample expands in the future, additional areas will be included in the condo price report.
The seasonally adjusted annual rate for a particular quarter represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative sales pace for that quarter was maintained for four consecutive quarters. Total home sales include single-family, townhomes, condominiums, and co-operative housing.
2 Total inventory and month’s supply data are available back through 1999, while single-family inventory and month’s supply are available back to 1982 (prior to 1999, single-family sales accounted for more than 90% of transactions and condos were measured only on a quarterly basis).
Seasonally adjusted rates are used in reporting quarterly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, sales volume normally is higher in the summer and relatively light in winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and household buying patterns.
3 A mortgage is affordable if a family spends no more than 25% of its income on mortgage payments on a 30-year mortgage with a 20% down payment (the qualifying income).
4 Income figures are rounded to the nearest hundred, based on NAR modeling of Census data. Qualifying income requirements are determined using several scenarios on down payment percentages and assume 25% of gross income devoted to mortgage principal and interest payment.