According to the National Association of Realtors' (NAR) Metropolitan Median Area Prices and Affordability report released Wednesday morning, the national median price of an existing home fell to $222,700 in the fourth quarter, a 2.8% drop from the third quarter, but a 6.9% increase year-over-year, when the median price was $229,000. The decline in median existing home price is typical for the fourth quarter, which spans October, November, and December, given that the peak time for moves is during spring and the summer.

During the fourth quarter, home prices rose in 81% of all measured markets (or 145 of 179 metropolitan statistical areas), while 34 metros saw prices drop from a year earlier. A total of 30 MSAs (17%) experienced double-digit increases, compared to 22 MSAs (12%) in the fourth quarter of 2014.

For the full year of 2015, 89% of measured metro areas saw an increase in existing median home prices, up from the 83% for 2014.

"Even with slightly cooling demand, the unshakable trend of inadequate supply in relation to the overall pool of prospective buyers inflicted upward pressure on home prices in several metro areas," said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun in a statement. "As a result, homeownership continues to be out of reach for a number of qualified buyers in the top job producing, but costliest, parts of the country – especially on the West Coast and parts of the South."

Regionally, the West reported the largest increase in existing home prices (8.4% year-over-year) to a median price of $323,600 in the fourth quarter, and the South saw a 6.6% increase to $195,400. Existing single-family homes in the Midwest and Northeast areas climbed 6.0% and 3.7% to $171,600 and $254,500, respectively.

The five most expensive existing home markets in the fourth quarter were:

  • San Jose, Calif., $940,000,
  • San Francisco, Calif., $781,600,
  • Honolulu, Hawaii, $716,600,
  • Anaheim-Santa Ana, Calif., $708,700,
  • San Diego, Calif., $546,800.

The five most affordable existing home markets in the fourth quarter were:

  • Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio, $81,200,
  • Cumberland, Md., $86,100,
  • Rockford, Ill., $87,600,
  • Decatur, Ill., $90,000,
  • Wichita Falls, Texas, $101,900.

Read the full release from NAR >>

More coverage of existing home markets from BUILDER >>