A “For Sale” sign stands outside a new home in Dunlap, Illinois, U.S. (Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)

U.S. Home-Price Gains Slow in Fourth Quarter as Inventory Jumps

(Bloomberg) -- Home-price gains in the U.S. slowed in the fourth quarter as more listings flooded onto the market.

The median price for an existing single-family home was $257,600, up 4 percent from a year earlier, the National Association of Realtors said in a report Tuesday. In the third quarter of 2018, prices rose 4.8 percent 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 percent from 2017.

“Home prices continued to rise in the vast majority of markets,” Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors group, 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 percent 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.

U.S. Home-Price Gains Slow in Fourth Quarter as Inventory Jumps

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

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