U.S. home prices posted the strongest quarterly increase in more than six years in the second quarter of the year and rose in 75% of local markets, another sign that the housing market is turning around.
The national median price for single-family homes sold in the April-June quarter was $181,500, up 7.3% from the same quarter a year earlier, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. It was the biggest increase since the first quarter of 2006.
The improvement was seen around the country. Prices rose compared with last year in 110 out of 147 metro areas tracked by the Realtors group. Prices fell in 34 metro areas and were unchanged in three. In the first quarter, median prices rose in 74 cities.
Lawrence Yun, the trade group's top economist, said part of the price increase has resulted from fewer sales of lower priced homes, where there is less inventory available. Nevertheless, Mr. Yun said it is "most encouraging to see a growing number of metro areas with rising median prices" because it is helps homeowners who owe more on their properties than their homes are worth to rebuild equity.
In the second quarter, however, home sales declined slightly, dipping 0.7% on a quarterly basis. They were up 8.6% from the same quarter a year earlier.
The metro areas showing the biggest increase in median prices from a year earlier were Detroit (29.2%), Phoenix (29%) and Boise City, Idaho (21.7%). Areas showing big price declines were Bridgeport, Conn. (-12.9%), Edison, N.J (-9.5%) and Gulfport, Miss. (-9.4%).
Nationwide, "distressed property," including foreclosures and homes at risk of foreclosure, accounted for 26% of second-quarter transactions, down from 33% a year earlier, the Realtors' group estimated. Write to Alan Zibel at email@example.com