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US home-price gains slow in Q4 as inventory jumps

1.55m homes available for sale at end of December, up 6.2% from 2017

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While prices rose in 92 per cent of markets last quarter, only 14 of the 178 metropolitan areas tracked in the report showed double-digit increases, down from 18 in the third quarter.

Boston

HOME-PRICE gains in the US slowed in the fourth quarter as more listings flooded onto the market.

The median price for an existing single-family home was US$257,600, up 4 per cent from a year earlier, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) said in a report released on Tuesday. In the third quarter of 2018, prices rose 4.8 per cent annually.

Home sales have slumped after a jump in mortgage rates added to an affordability crunch that built up after years of rapidly rising prices. About 1.55 million homes were available for sale at the end of December, up 6.2 per cent from 2017.

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"Home prices continued to rise in the vast majority of markets," Lawrence Yun, the NAR's chief economist said in the report.

"But with inventory steadily increasing, home prices are, on average, rising at a slower and healthier pace."

While prices rose in 92 per cent of markets last quarter, only 14 of the 178 metropolitan areas tracked in the report showed double-digit increases, down from 18 in the third quarter.

Purchases of previously owned homes declined in all four regions of the country, with the biggest plunge in the West, where transactions slid 14 per cent from a year earlier, the group said. BLOOMBERG