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The median sales price of single-family homes across the Washington region rose 10.9 percent from a year before in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to new data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

That is not quite a surprise, as every single one of the roughly 180 metro areas tracked by NAR recorded year-over-year increases and the national price increase was nearly 15 percent.

"The fourth quarter of 2020 presented circumstances ripe for home-price increases," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "Mortgage rates reached record lows, thereby driving up the demand. At the same time, inventory levels also reached record lows, leading to grim inventory conditions of insufficient supply."

The highest price gainers in the fourth quarter were Bridgeport, Conn. (39%); Pittsfield, Mass. (32.2%); Atlantic City (30%); Naples, Fla. (29.9%); Barnstable, Mass. (28.9%); Crestview, Fla. (28.6%); Boise City, Idaho (27.1%); Binghamton, N.Y. (24.4%); Kingston, N.Y. (24.2%); and Spokane, Wash. (23.6%).

That list of overachievers suggests that COVID-conscious buyers were on the hunt for homes either in lower-cost locales that were within driving distance of large cities, or situated in vacation/resort destinations of either the warm-weather or cold-weather variety.

"Although tourism took a major hit overall throughout 2020, our data show that vacation housing still did well in terms of sales," Yun said. "Many people purchased in these areas because they found themselves with new work-from-home freedoms."

The national median existing single-family home price rose 14.9 percent on a year-over-year basis, to $315,900, and all four geographic regions of the country experienced double-digit year-over-year price growth.

The Northeast led the charge at 20.7 percent, followed by the West at 15.5 percent, the Midwest at 15.1 percent and the South at 14 percent.

Eighty-eight percent of the metros followed (161 areas) saw double-digit price increases.

How long such a booming growth rate can continue is anyone's guess. But affordability is becoming a bigger and bigger deterrent to many households.

"The average, working family is struggling to contend with home prices that are rising much faster than income," Yun said. "This sidelines a consumer from becoming an actual buyer."

Eight places in the West region, along with two areas in the East, combined for the 10 most expensive metros in the fourth quarter, based on median sales price of existing single-family homes.

The list included San Jose ($1.4 million); San Francisco ($1.14 million); Anaheim ($935,000); Honolulu ($902,500); San Diego ($740,000); Los Angeles ($688,700); Boulder, Colo. ($661,300); Seattle ($614,700); Nassau County, N.Y. ($591,600); and Boston ($579,100). With the exception of Boulder, all posted double-digit growth in median single-family existing-home sale prices.

(The Washington region ranked 16th from the top in the quarterly survey.)

On the other end of the scale, the lowest median sales price recorded in the fourth quarter was in Decatur, Ill., at $100,900. Others topping the affordability list: Cumberland, Md. ($124,300); Elmira, N.Y. ($126,400); Youngstown, Ohio ($126,700); and Peoria, Ill. ($132,300).

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