The median sales price increased from a year earlier in 133 of 152 metropolitan areas measured, the National Association of Realtors reported Monday. In the third quarter, 120 areas had gains.
An improving job market and low interest rates are driving up prices by fueling demand for a tightening supply of listings. U.S. home prices rose 8.3 percent in December from a year earlier, the biggest jump since May 2006, Irvine, Calif.- based CoreLogic reported Feb. 5.
"The U.S. housing recovery showed no signs of slowing in the final stages of 2012," Paul Diggle, property economist for Capital Economics in London, said in a note to clients after CoreLogic's report was released. "And the early signs are that these gains will be extended throughout 2013 as the economy continues its recovery."
At the end of the fourth quarter, 1.82 million existing homes were available for sale, 22 percent fewer than a year earlier, according to the Chicago-based Realtors group.
The national median price for an existing single-family home was $178,900 in the fourth quarter, up 10 percent from the same period last year. That was the biggest year-over-year gain since 2005, according to the Realtors group.
The best-performing metro area was Phoenix, where prices increased 34 percent from a year earlier. Prices rose 31 percent in the Detroit region, and 28 percent in San Francisco.
The Kingston, N.Y., area had the biggest decline, with the median selling price falling 7.9 percent in the quarter. It was followed by the Kankakee, Ill., with an 7 percent decrease, and Erie, Penn., with a 6.1 percent drop.