The latest sales numbers from the nation’s Multiple Listing Services are in, and housing is looking good.
As of May 1, only nine of the 100 core-based statistical areas (CBSAs) with more than 500 sales in the previous three months saw prices decline. The other 91 booked higher prices — some quite significantly higher.
According to data supplied by Pro Teck Valuation Services of Waltham, Mass., the average median price of the 100 most active CBSAs was up almost 12% from the same period a year earlier. CBSAs are defined as “micropolitan” areas of at least 10,000 people who are tied to an urban center by commuting.
The average median nationally as of May 1 was $212,869. At the same time last year it was $190,278.
Since all real estate is local, the national median is useful only as a headline. What’s more important to buyers and sellers is knowing whether the real estate market is rising or falling where they live.
Much more valuable in gauging the path of house prices is price per square foot, which is the great equalizer. Whereas other measures are often influenced by an unusually high number of sales at one end of the price spectrum or the other, the median price per square foot evens things out.
By normalizing for swings in the type and price of houses sold, the price per square foot represents a truer market snapshot and is a better way by which all houses can be judged against one another.
That alone makes Pro Teck’s figures more meaningful. And giving them ever greater credence is the fact that they are the most recent.
Other measures you might read or hear about are often up to six months old, but the numbers supplied to this column by the Massachusetts valuation company are collected from the country’s 850 Multiple Listing Services and updated daily. You can’t get much more current than that.
With that as a backdrop, let’s take a peek at what’s happening in selected places around the country.
The latest leader in the quarterly price dance is Atlanta. The median price per square foot of a house sold in the last three months in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta CBSA jumped 41%, to $65.74 from $46.64 a year earlier, while the median price rose 43%, to $136,000 from $95,000.
Atlanta’s price-per-square-foot numbers compare quite favorably to the national average median, which was $115.91 per square foot as of May 1, an increase of nearly 11% from a year earlier.
Detroit was another big gainer. The median price per square foot there rose almost 33%, to $50.79 from $38.30, the lowest price per square foot of the 100 most active markets.
Of the eight next best-performing CBSAs, one is in Arizona, one is in Florida, two are in Nevada and four are in California. And in all eight, the average median jump in square foot price was from 22% to 28%.
The most expensive market is San Francisco. There the median price rose an astonishing $180,000, to $915,000 as of May 1 from $735,000 this time last spring, nearly a 25% gain.
And as a result, the per-square-foot price in the Bay Area rose 22%, only the 11th-strongest gain, to $545.60 from $448.61.
In Los Angeles the price per square foot rose 18.9% during the period, to $272.63 from $229.28, while in San Diego it rose 17.9%, to $235.77 from $200.
The median price per square foot was up 7.6% to $76.82 in Houston, and 7.5% to $85.19 in Dallas. In Chicago it was up 1.7% to $95.87.
In Florida the median was up strongly across the state. In Orlando it was up nearly 19% to $82.59. Miami’s price per square foot was up 17.4% to $112.74. In Tampa-St. Petersburg it was up 15.2% to $83.98. And in Sarasota it rose 13.2% to $66.71.