In its February, 2017 Real Estate Market Report, Zillow says that nationally, median home prices were at the highest levels they have been in 10 years.  With a median home price at $195,700., home values were up 7% in February, 2017, as compared to February, 2016.  Zillow also indicates that the downside in this report is that there were 3% fewer homes to choose from nationally than there were last year.

Tampa, Seattle, Dallas and Orlando all showed double digit growth in their respective median home prices.  These four cities had the highest home value appreciation among the country’s 35 largest metro areas.  Specifically, Seattle showed both sides of the coin…its median home value was up 11% over last year and its inventory was down by 10.5%. Tampa also showed both sides of the coin with its median home value increase of 12% and its inventory down by 5%.  Orlando’s inventory was even lower at 11%.

Zillow’s chief economist, Dr. Svenja Gudell says, “low inventory, strong demand and tough competition will be the defining characteristics of this year’s home shopping season.  Even with interest rates rising, buyers are eager to begin their home search.”  What prospective buyers have to remember is “…that it is rare to be able to get the first house on your first offer…Homes in hot markets frequently sell over the asking price…”

Zillow reports too that purchase mortgage requests were up 7% from February, 2016, to February, 2017, and that the refinance market, much more rate sensitive than the mortgage market, was down by 69% during this same time period.

Higher median prices and lower unit inventories are also affecting the rental markets across the country.  Zillow says that the national median rental price was up 1.2% at $1,206./monthly from February 2016, to February, 2017.  The most significant increases in median rental prices were in Austin at 24%, San Antonio at 16% and Miami at 16.2%.  Median rental prices in Portland and Sacramento were up 5%.  The greatest drops in rental inventory were Minneapolis at -18%, Cincinnati at -15%, Detroit at -14.4% and Boston at -11%.