Home-price growth picks up speed

House resting on money

House resting on moneyBy Kris Hudson | Wall Street Journal

Growth in home prices quickened at the end of last year—depending on the region.

The median sale price of an existing home was $208,700 last quarter, up 6% from a year earlier, according to a report released Wednesday by the National Association of Realtors. That marked a quickening pace from the third quarter, when prices were up 4.8% from a year earlier.

Of the 175 U.S. metro areas covered in the report, 86% registered increases in their median price on finalized sales in the fourth quarter from a year ago. In comparison, only 73% posted year-over-year gains in the third quarter. The biggest gains were seen in some of the areas hardest hit during the housing-market downturn.

Driving the gains: the supply of homes available for sale remained relatively tight and demand was stoked by the improving economy and low interest rates.

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