Home Prices Rose in 91% of Housing Markets Last Year, According to RealtyTrac

Earlier this month, the real estate data firm RealtyTrac published its “Year-End 2015 U.S. Home Sales Report.” The report revealed that most local housing markets in the U.S. have experienced price gains within the last year — some in the double digits.

According to the company, 91% of the markets analyzed experienced a year-over-year increase in median home prices during 2015.

The report also showed that home sellers in the U.S. enjoyed an average price gain of 11% since purchasing their homes. That was the largest average price gain for sellers since 2007, marking an eight-year high.

91% of Housing Markets See Year-Over-Year Price Gains

At the end of 2015, the median house price in the United States was $206,500. That was 10% higher than the same time in the previous year, the result of steady appreciation in the housing market. Furthermore, December 2015 marked 46 consecutive months of year-over-year gains in the nation’s median home price.

This is further evidence that the country has left the housing crisis far behind, and is now appreciating steadily.

In its latest assessment, RealtyTrac analyzed 87 major metropolitan areas across the United States. Seventy-nine of those metro-sized housing markets (or 91%) had experienced a year-over-year increase in median home prices by the end of 2015. House values in other cities surrounding the 87 metros likely rose as well, due to the “halo” effect of real estate market appreciation.

Biggest Winners: St. Louis, Raleigh, Detroit and Tampa

RealtyTrac also analyzed the 46 largest housing markets in the U.S. (with populations of 1 million or more) to see where the biggest annual home-price gains occurred. St. Louis, Missouri experienced the biggest increase in 2015, with a whopping 19% rise in its median home price.

The Raleigh, North Carolina housing market posted a gain of 17%, as did Detroit, Michigan. The median home price in Tampa, Florida rose by 15% last year, according to RealtyTrac’s analysis. Denver; Seattle; San Jose and Providence, Rhode Island all had double-digit gains of 13%.

(On a side note, Denver and Seattle were recently named two of the hottest markets to watch in 2016. So it’s no surprise to find them singled out in the RealtyTrac report.)

Other highlights from the February 2016 report:

  • 38% of the 87 metro-area housing markets analyzed have reached new all-time highs. (Related story: New price peaks seen in Boston, Dallas, Denver and Portland)
  • Home sales volume reached a nine-year high at the end of last year.
  • Distressed (foreclosure) sales and short sales fell to an eight-year low in December, signaling a healthier housing market.
  • All-cash home sales fell to a seven-year low at the end of last year, as investors pull back from the market.
  • FHA loans have become increasingly popular among home buyers. FHA market share rose to a four-year high in December, according to several sources.

Are Home Prices Cooling in 2016?

It’s easier to analyze the past than predict the future. So it’s hard to say exactly what the U.S. housing market will do through the rest of 2016. But the general consensus among analysts and economists is that home prices in many U.S. cities could rise at a slower pace in 2016, or flat-line completely.

In fact, we’re seeing a general cooling trend in many major cities already, particularly those that experienced larger-than-average home price gains over the last year (such as San Francisco).

According to the real estate firm Zillow, the U.S. median home value rose 4.0% over the past year. The company predicts a more modest gain of 2.6% within the next year. This forecast was issued in February 2016.