A “Home For Sale” sign is displayed outside a house in Martinez, California, U.S. (Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

Home Prices in the U.S. Climb at Slower Pace as Inventory Rises

(Bloomberg) -- U.S. home prices rose at a slower rate in the first quarter as more owners listed their properties for sale, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The median price for a previously owned single-family house increased 3.9% from a year earlier to $254,800, the Realtors group said in a report Tuesday. Prices rose in 153 of 178 metropolitan areas measured. Thirteen regions had price increases of 10% or more, down from 14 in the fourth quarter.

The U.S. housing market is sputtering after years of price gains that have outpaced income growth. Buyers are getting more choices, which should help ease bidding wars in some areas. At the end of the quarter, 1.68 million existing homes were available for sale, up 2.4% from a year earlier, Realtors group said.

“Homeowners in a majority of markets are continuing to enjoy price gains, albeit at a slower rate of growth,” Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in the report. “There are vast home price differences among metro markets. The condition of extremely high home prices may not be sustainable in light of many alternative metro markets that are much more affordable.”

The country’s most-expensive market was San Jose, California, where the median price was $1.22 million. The cheapest was Decatur, Illinois, with a median of $80,800.

In the first quarter of 2018, prices had climbed 5.7% from a year earlier, the Realtors group said.

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