The national median existing single-family home price showed the strongest year-over-year increase in seven years during the fourth quarter, according to the latest report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). In addition, the median price rose in 133 out of 152 metropolitan statistical areas based on closings in the fourth quarter compared with the same quarter in 2011.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said all the conditions for strong price growth are at play. “Home sales are on a sustained uptrend, mortgage interest rates are hovering near record lows and unsold inventory is at the lowest level in 12 years,” he said. “Home sales are being fueled by a pent-up demand and job creation, along with still favorable affordability conditions and rents rising at faster rates.”
Separately, NAR’s national annual Housing Affordability Index rose to a record high of 193.5 in 2012. An index of 100 is defined as the point where a median-income household has exactly enough income to qualify for the purchase of a median-priced existing single-family home, assuming a 20 percent downpayment and 25 percent of gross income devoted to mortgage principal and interest payments. For first-time buyers making small downpayments, the affordability levels are relatively lower.
“The housing affordability index shows that the national median income of families was almost double the income needed to buy a median-priced home in 2012, so most buyers are able to stay well within their means,” Yun said. “Even with rising home prices, conditions are expected to stay very favorable with the index averaging 161 in 2013, which would be the third best on record.”
There’s never been a better time to buy a home!