Realtors say that housing affordability conditions improved in most metropolitan areas from softer existing-home prices and record-low mortgage interest rates in the fourth quarter, with rising sales and lower inventory creating more balanced conditions. Introduced with this release is a new annual metro-level housing affordability index, with historically favorable conditions dominating across the country. The median existing single-family home price rose in 29 out of 149 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) in the fourth quarter from a year earlier; two were unchanged and 118 areas had price declines. The national median existing single-family home price was $163,500 in the fourth quarter, down 4.2 percent from $170,600 in the fourth quarter of 2010. Distressed homes – foreclosures and short sales which sold at discounts averaging 15 to 20 percent – accounted for 30 percent of fourth quarter sales; they were 34 percent a year earlier. “Broadly speaking, the very middle of the country, from the Dakotas and Nebraska to Oklahoma and Texas, has experienced very stable home price trends because of stronger job creation in those areas,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. These regions are known as an areas of strength for manufactured housing. At the end of the fourth quarter there were 2.38 million existing homes available for sale, which is 21.2 percent lower than the close of the fourth quarter of 2010 when there were 3.02 million homes on the market.
(Image Credit: Eric Miller)