NAR: 3Q home-price appreciation rises.

Position:Briefing Book - National Association of Realtors

Look for improvements in housing inventory to bring more balance to the home sales market in 2006, even as home prices continued to push up during the third quarter of 2005, according to the National Association of Realtors[R] (NAR), Chicago.

NAR's third-quarter median existing single-family home-price survey, which covered changes in 147 MSAs, noted 69 metro areas with double-digit annual price increases, while six MSAs had small price declines.

The national median existing single-family home price was $215,900 in the third quarter of 2005, up 14.7 percent from the third quarter of 2004 when the median price was $188,200. Ninety-seven metro areas--two-thirds of the total--experienced increases greater than the U.S. historic average of 6.4 percent, said NAR.

Expect a more "healthy and balanced" home-buying market in 2006, predicted NAR Chief Economist David Lereah.

"These historically high home-price gains are the simple result of more buyers than sellers in the market," said Lereah. "The good news is that inventory levels are improving, and housing supply will come close to buyer demand in 2006."

The strongest price increase in the nation during the third quarter was in Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Arizona, where the third-quarter median home price of $268,ooo rose 55.2 percent from a year earlier. Next was Orlando, Florida, at $261,300, up...

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