The national median price of an existing home in 2016's first quarter rose 6.3% from the same period last year to $217,600, according to the National Association of Realtors' (NAR) Metropolitan Median Area Prices and Affordability report released Monday morning. However, compared to fourth quarter, 2015, the price slipped 2.1% but remained well above the year-earlier level of $204,700.

During this quarter, home prices rose in 87% of all measured markets (or 154 of 178 metropolitan statistical areas), while 24 metros, or 13% of all, saw prices drop from a year earlier. A total of 28 MSAs (16%) experienced double-digit increases, significantly lower than the 51 MSAs (28%) in the first quarter of 2015.

"The solid run of sustained job creation and attractive mortgage rates below 4 percent spurred steady demand for home purchases in many local markets," said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun in a statement. "Unfortunately, sales were somewhat subdued by supply and demand imbalances and broadly rising prices above wage growth. As a result, the path to homeownership so far this year remains strenuous for a segment of prospective buyers in the most competitive areas.."

Regionally, the Midwest reported the largest increase in existing home prices (7.3% year-over-year) to a median price of $167,900 in this quarter, followed by the West with a 7.1% increase to $315,900. Existing single-family homes in the South and Northeast areas climbed 5.8% and 1.8% to $192,100 and $249,400, respectively.

The five most expensive existing home markets, mostly concentrated in the state of California, were:

  • San Jose, Calif., $970,000,
  • San Francisco, Calif., $770,300,
  • Honolulu, Hawaii, $721,400,
  • Anaheim-Santa Ana, Calif., $713,700,
  • San Diego, Calif., $554,300.

The five most affordable existing home markets in this quarter were:

Metro area condominium and cooperative prices – covering changes in 60 metro areas – showed the national median existing-condo price was $204,700 in the first quarter, up 5.8% from the first quarter of 2015 ($193,500). Forty-four metro areas (73%) showed gains in their median condo price from a year ago; 16 areas had declines.

NAR President Tom Salomone, broker-owner of Real Estate II Inc. in Coral Springs, Florida, says buyer foot traffic has been strong throughout the spring. “Especially in the top job producing metro areas, Realtors are reporting a steady stream of interested buyers either in the early stages of the home search or currently ready to make a purchase,” he said.

Read the full release from NAR >>

More coverage of existing home markets from BUILDER >>