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Nationwide Home Prices: Prices Increase, Drop Equally

News | 25th May 2012

If you’re searching for an inexpensive home, consider the western shore of Lake Erie.

In early 2012, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) in its quarterly survey of median home prices, the least expensive housing market was the metro Detroit area. The second lowest market was followed by neighboring Toledo, Ohio. After that, Lansing-East Lansing, Michigan, approximately an hour and a half drive west of Detroit, was the third least expensive market.

Lowest prices found in the Midwest

The NAR indicates half of the homes sold in Detroit went for less than $52,300, the median price. The association doesn’t have data of the median-price in Detroit for the previous year. However, it’s likely that it did not go up.

The median price in Toledo, in the first quarter of this year, was $63,400, down 2.3 percent from the same quarter in 2011. The median home price in the Lansing area was $65,500, up by 6.2 percent in the same quarter last year.

Home prices up from last year

According to the most recent house-price data from the NAR, as it stands right now, it’s difficult to come up with any firm conclusions about home values. Year-over-year median prices have increased in approximately half the housing markets and decreased in the other half. Also, in many places, the changes weren’t that big, one way or the other.

The association surveys 161 housing markets and had year-over-year statistics for 146. Fifteen markets, including the Detroit area, had incomplete data.

Of the 146, the median price of 62 of the housing markets went up or down by less than three percent. However, 11 metro areas saw an increase in home prices by more than 10 percent, four were in Florida. The biggest gain was in Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida, where the median price increased 28.1 percent in just one year, up to $117,600.

Some cities see home price declines

Nine cities saw home prices decline by more than 10 percent. Kingston, New York, had the lowest decrease median price by 22 percent, down to $156,800. For the country, as a whole, the median price decreased 0.4 percent, down to $158,100. Thus, the ups and downs have been just about equal: prices increased in 74 markets and decreased in 72.

“We now have broad shortages of lower-priced homes in much of the country,” says Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the NAR. He indicates in the western states, there are few homes available for sale in mid-range prices. “This is good news for many sellers who wish to list now, or for those waiting for prices to improve,” Yun says.

Sales numbers up significantly from a year ago

First-quarter sales were at their highest since 2007. The total number of existing-home sales, which includes condos and single-family homes, were at 4.57 million annually in the first quarter, an increase of 5.3 percent from last year’s first quarter.

Thirty-two percent of home sales in this year’s first quarter were short sales and foreclosures, a decrease of six percent from last year, according to the association.

The NAR is not content regarding the lack of mortgages available. The organization’s president, Moe Veissi, said mortgage lending standards are “unnecessarily tight.” But he also said that, at least, lower home prices make it easier for buyers entering the market.

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