Announcing the 2020 Presidents Club Members

We are very proud to announce our 2020 Select Sotheby’s International Realty President’s Club! Each agent who is inducted into this club will provide you with an unparalleled experience with buying or selling your next home. Congratulations to all of these outstanding professionals.⁠ Presidents Club Social Media 2020

New York Times Sponsorship: The High End

The Sotheby’s International Realty® brand is the official launch sponsor of The High End, the new destination for luxury real estate from the New York Times.

Enjoy reading the first post here:  From Saints to Hot Springs – The Luxury of Mountainside Living.

Increasing the Value of Your Home

Trulia recently published an article about 8 proven ways to increase the value of your home. We believe these are all very important things to do to not only increase value, but also properly display your home within the real estate market.

1. Staging & De-cluttering

It’s important to properly stage your home to look like something you would see in a magazine. By de-cluttering, you allow anyone coming in the ability to imagine their own personal belongings in each room.

0015_9TaymorTr_CliftonPark_Magoolaghan_030915elc

9 Taymor Trail, Clifton Park NY 12065 | $1,390,000 USD

 

2. Clean, Clean & Clean!

Let’s be honest, no one wants to walk through a dirty home. Spend the extra hours washing the windows, dusting the living room, mopping the floors and shining up those appliances. A fresh smell and a fresh look will definitely generate more interest!

008_42RollingBrook_BallstonSpa_Burke_030215elc

42 Rolling Brook, Ballston Spa NY 12020 | $549,000 USD

 

3. It’s All About Curb Appeal

First impressions are everything! Make sure your home is inviting from the outside.

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6 Hilltop Court, Rexford NY 12065 | $875,000

 

4. Details

It’s the little things you think you can let go and no one will notice, but a house shows better if all of the light bulbs are in working order and all of your personal photographs are put away. Again, people want to envision their own personal affects.

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4 Pheasant Run, Saratoga Springs NY 12866 | $750,000

 

5. Refresh Kitchen and Baths

“Consumer Reports estimates that you can increase your home’s value by as much as 7% by renovating these rooms.” Know the current trends, the modern look. Make sure that if you’re going to spend any money to revamp, the first place you put it is in these rooms.

On a strict budget? There are money friendly ways to give your kitchen a brand new, modern look. Check out this $800 kitchen remodel : http://www.thekitchn.com/before-after-an-800-complete-kitchen-makeover-kitchen-remodel-217753

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Executive Builders, Bel Ridge Homes, Niskayuna NY (Photo is example of builder’s work)

 

6. Photography is KEY!

In today’s modern world, the first viewing someone will see of your home is online. Your online presence must be strong to get them to call and schedule a showing. Photography is everything!

Here’s a fun fact for you : “According to RedFin.com, homes shot with a DSLR receive an average of 61% more views, have a 47% higher asking price per square foot and an increased likelihood of selling when priced above $300,000.” – Real Estate Web Solutions

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Magnificent Lake Placid Estate, Lake Placid NY 12946 | $12,750,000

 

7. Limit the DIY

Our Real Estate Professionals have gone through extensive training to gain the knowledge on properly marketing and selling homes. Hire one. Don’t try to sell it yourself, or you may risk sitting on it for quite some time. Agents have the tools necessary to expose your home to more than just one online presence, or a sign in the yard.

Make sure you’re interviewing agents to find a good fit for you and your property. It’s extremely important to find an agent who will “sell” your home and not just “list” your home.

DCIM101GOPRO

 

8. Don’t take it personally.

Leave the emotions out of it. Cherish the memories made at your home, but step back and de-personalize before selling. Homes sell based on price, and what the market is willing to pay. Look at comparative homes and what they are selling for.

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384 Stage Road, White Creek NY | $980,000 USD

To view the original article by Trulia, please visit : http://www.trulia.com/blog/proven-ways-increase-value-home/?ecampaign=cnews&eurl=www.trulia.com%2Fblog%2Fproven-ways-increase-value-home%2F

New housing on the rebound in Wilton

WILTON>> New home starts in town increased for a second straight year in 2013 and were at their highest level since 2007, a major indicator of increased consumer confidence in the local economy.

The town issued 45 residential building permits last year compared to 34 in 2012 and 29 in 2011, the lowest figure in recent history.

The number is a far cry from the 202 permits issued in 2002 but still reflects a turnaround that is slowly gaining steam.

“We’re very encouraged,” said Charles Wait, Adirondack Trust Co. president, chairman and chief executive officer. “All of our loan activity increased substantially during the past year, including personal loans, mainly for new car purchases. Housing and car loans are a very good sign for the economy and this area.”

Loan applications are up for both new construction and existing homes, not just in Wilton, but Saratoga Springs and Milton, he said.

Some people are encouraged by the gradually improving economy. Others who put off purchases during the recession are now making needed expenditures. However, there’s also a third group, Wait said.

“Some of it is money on the sidelines coming in; people who had money, but were being cautious with it,” he said.

The 45 residential permits issued last year in Wilton were the most since the 74 issued in 2007. An average 33 permits were issued annually for the five-year period of 2008 through 2012.

Developer Bill Morris has begun clearing property for his 49-lot Craw Farm subdivision on Traver Road, just south of Wilton Town Hall.

“We’re cutting a road now and will start building a model home this spring,” Morris said. “We haven’t tried the market, but there’s definitely a lot of interest. That’s why we’re putting in infrastructure now.”

Meanwhile, commercial construction crept upward, too, last year in Wilton as 43 permits were issued, the highest figure since 2006 when 45 were approved. However, actual non-residential new construction totaled 32,625 square feet, the least since 2005 when a peak 214,357 square feet was built.

The town Planning Department’s 2013 Development Report says there are 629 approved, but still undeveloped residential building lots in Wilton, meaning the town is poised for considerable growth, depending on the area demand for new housing.

Some approved subdivisions have dozens of undeveloped lots each. They are: Park Place at Wilton (114 lots), Mill at Smith Bridge (60 lots), Craw Farm (49 lots), Burnham Hollow (38 lots) and Olson Farm (31 lots). Ridgeview Estates and Rolling Greens Executive Estates have 28 undeveloped lots each.

Also, Witt Construction owner John Witt has a proposed subdivision called Palmertown Ridge on 900 acres near the Mount McGregor Correctional Facility property. Homes would be priced from $500,000 to more than $1 million.

“I’d like to see the high-end market come back a little before we start that,” Witt said.

However, he’s busy elsewhere.

In Saratoga Springs, an “in-fill” project is currently in the design phase. Plans call for seven single-family condominium units on one lot, on Jumel Place.

Witt is also drawing up plans for 108 apartments and more than 50 townhomes at Northway exit 15, near the Marriott Hotel, a project he hopes to start work on this summer.

“Things have definitely picked up,” Witt said. “It’s not crazy busy, but consistently steady. Everybody is still very conscious of price. That’s going to drive a lot of the new construction. If interest rates stay low, things should be good the next few years.”

Saratoga National Bank & Trust Co. Chairman Raymond F. O’Conor said, “Saratoga County never saw the depths of the ‘Great Recession.’ We had a relatively strong base. Now, with an overall improved economy it was time for the housing sector to make a strong recovery.”

The best apps for selling and buying homes

In the fast-paced San Diego real estate game, successful agents are harnessing mobile data to stay two steps ahead while house hopping.

Luckily, in the age of smartphones, specialized apps put market information at your fingertips. Plus, they give you the ability to win over clients and streamline the paperwork with a few taps.

While some companies such as Zillow and Trulia have built online empires by providing always-up-to-date listings, there are lots of useful smartphone tools that can help agents work faster and more efficiently in the field.

Whether you’re searching for a home in Mission Hills or selling a four-bedroom in East Village, here are nine apps that will help you close the deal fast.

Find the house

The best-laid plans often go awry, and even if you came prepared with a list of prime properties in the bay area, your buyers could decide their budget or taste in neighborhoods have changed. With the right apps, you can adapt on the fly.

There are two big dogs on the mobile house-hunting scene: Zillow and Trulia. And while they mostly focus on buyers, both of their pocket guides guarantee you will have the most current listings and pricing info.

Zillow Real Estate (free on Android and iOS) puts 100 million searchable properties on your smartphone, plus helpful features such as notifications for favorite properties, search within an area that you draw on the map, and price estimates based on surrounding homes and market trends.

Real Estate by Trulia (free on Android and iOS) also uses built-in GPS to find nearby houses on the fly, and adds essential components such as crime maps, school locations, and filtering by criteria like number of bedrooms and total square footage.

Show it off

Once you’re in the ballpark of price and location, it’s time to exhibit the interior features. Even if the buyer isn’t with you on the initial visit, your smartphone’s camera can help you communicate some of a spot’s key characteristics.

For that in-the-room-with-you vibe, try 360 Panorama (99 cents on iOS). This app lets you stitch multiple photos together into a sharable, interactive picture that shows all 360 degrees of a space.

If you need to point out specific details, Skitch (free on Android and iOS) lets users quickly mark up photos and PDFs with highlights, boxes, arrows and overlaid text. It’s perfect for focusing in on oak cabinets or a cobblestone-framed fireplace.

If the prospective buyers want to update the space with their own DIY touches, Zillow Digs(free, iPad only) will help you estimate and factor in those costs. The app provides a database of searchable home-improvement ideas along with tools for projecting project pricing based on location.

Seal the deal

Once your clients are ready to pull the trigger on the home of their dreams, don’t let the paperwork hold up the process.

First, make sure payments are within reason by using Zillow Mortgage Marketplace (free on Android and iOS). This app will help your buyers budget monthly payments and shop around for loan quotes with its dead-simple interface.

Once you agree on terms and have the contract written up, Docusign Ink (free for Android and iOS, $15/month basic plan) will help you get the necessary signatures to make the sale official. All you need is a smartphone and your finger, so it’s perfect for endorsing documents while you’re out and about.

And if you’re completely committed to going paperless, there are a bunch of cloud-based services that keep your documents organized and accessible. The two best options for real estate purposes are Cartavi (free on Android and iOS, $10/month basic plan), Docusign’s sister service that was built specifically for realtors and emphasizes collaborative document sharing, and Dropbox (free on Anderoid and iOS), which links up directly with Docusign and makes it simple to distribute contracts via any online medium.

Trulia’s Housing Predictions: How 2014 Will be Different

The housing market continued its uneven recovery in 2013 and will enter 2014 closer to normal than it was a year earlier. Consumer optimism is climbing back: in Trulia’s latest survey, 74% of Americans said that homeownership was part of achieving their personal American Dream – the highest level since January 2010. Even among young adults (18-34 year olds), many of whom struggled through the recession and are still living with their parents, 73% said homeownership was part of achieving their personal American Dream, up from 65% in August 2011. Rising prices over the past two years have been great news for homeowners, especially for those who had been underwater, and the real estate industry has benefited from both higher prices and more sales volume.

At the same time, the effects of the recession and housing bust still sting: the barriers to homeownership remain high, and a few markets – mostly in Florida – still have a foreclosure overhang. Plus, the housing recovery itself brings its own challenges, including declining affordability and localized bubble worries, especially in southern California.

Barring any economic crises, the housing market should continue to normalize. Here are 5 ways that the 2014 housing market will be different from 2013:

  1. Housing Affordability Worsens. Buying a home will be more expensive in 2014 than in 2013. Although home-price increases should slow from this year’s unsustainably fast pace (see #4, below), prices will still rise faster than both incomes and rents. Also, mortgage rates will be higher in 2014 than in 2013, thanks both to the strengthening economy (rates tend to rise in recoveries) and to Fed tapering, whenever it comes. The rising cost of homeownership will add insult to injury in America’s least affordable markets: in October 2013, for instance, 25% or less of the homes listed for sale in San Francisco, Orange County, Los Angeles, and New York were affordable to middle class households. Nonetheless, buying will remain cheaper than renting. As of September 2013, buying was 35% cheaper than renting nationally, and buying beat renting in all of the 100 largest metros. However, prices and mortgage rates might rise enough to tip the math in favor of renting in a couple of housing markets – starting with San Jose.
  2. The Home-Buying Process Gets Less Frenzied. Home buyers in 2014 might kick themselves for not buying in 2013 or 2012, when mortgage rates and prices were lower, but they’ll take some comfort in the fact that the process won’t be as frenzied. There will be more inventory on the market next year, partly due to new construction, but primarily because higher prices will encourage more homeowners to sell – including those who are no longer underwater.  Also, buyers looking for a home for themselves will face less competition from investors who are scaling back their home purchases (see #3, below). Finally, mortgages should be easier to get because higher rates have slashed refinancing activity and pushed some banks to ramp up their purchase lending. Moreover, the new mortgage rules coming into effect in 2014 will give banks better clarity about the legal and financial risks they face with different types of mortgages, hopefully making them more willing to lend. All in all, more inventory, less competition from investors, and more mortgage credit should all make the buying process less frenzied than in 2013 – for those who can afford to buy.
  3. Repeat Buyers Take Center Stage. 2013 was the year of the investor, but 2014 will be the year of the repeat home buyer. Investors buy less as prices rise: higher prices mean that the return on investment falls, and there’s less room for future price appreciation. Who will fill the gap? Not first-time buyers: saving for a down payment and having a stable job remain significant burdens, and declining affordability is also a big hurdle for first-timers. Who’s left? Repeat buyers: they’re less discouraged by rising prices than either investors or first-time buyers because the home they already own has also risen in value. Also, the down payment is less of a challenge for repeat buyers if they have equity in their current home

    Biggest Obstacle to Homeownership

    All adults

    18-34 year-olds only

    Saving enough for a down payment

    55%

    58%

    Not having a stable job

    36%

    43%

    Having a poor credit history

    35%

    33%

    Qualifying for a mortgage

    32%

    29%

    Unable to pay off existing debt

    26%

    30%

    Rising home prices

    22%

    23%

    Rising mortgage rates

    15%

    18%

    Limited inventory

    5%

    5%

    Among renters who wish to buy a home right now. Respondents could choose multiple options. Survey conducted November 2013.
  4. How Much Prices Slow Matters Less Than Why And Where. Prices won’t rise as much in 2014 as in 2013. The latest Trulia Price Monitor showed us that asking home prices rose year-over-year 12.1% nationally and more than 20% in 10 of the 100 largest metros. But it also revealed that these price gains are already slowing sharply in the hottest metros. How much prices slow matters less than why. If prices are slowing for the right reasons, great: growing inventory, fading investor activity, and rising mortgage rates are all natural price-slowing changes to expect at this stage of the recovery. But prices could slow for unhealthy reasons, too: if we have another government shutdown or more debt-ceiling brinksmanship, a drop in consumer confidence could hurt housing demand and home prices. Where prices change matters, too. Slowing prices are welcome news in overvalued or unaffordable markets, but markets where prices are significantly undervalued and borrowers are still underwater would be better off with a year or two of unsustainably fast price gains.
  5. Rental Action Swings Back Toward Urban Apartments. Throughout the recession and recovery, investors bought homes and rented them out, sometimes to people who lost another (or the same!) home to foreclosure. In fact, the number of rented single-family homes leapt by 32% during this period. Going into 2014, though, investors are buying fewer single-family homes; loosening credit standards might allow more single-family renters to become owners again; and fewer owners are losing homes toforeclosures to begin with – all of which mean that the single-family rental market should cool. At the same time, multifamily accounts for an unusually high share of new construction, which means more urban apartment rentals should come onto the market in 2014. Urban apartments will be the first stop for many of the young adults who find jobs and move out of their parents’ homes. In short, 2014 should mean more supply and demand for urban apartment rentals, but slowing supply and demand for single-family rentals. Ironically, economic recovery means that the overall homeownership rate will probably decline, as some young adults form their own households as renters. Still, the shift in rental activity from suburban single-family to urban apartments would be yet another sign of housing recovery.

What other reasons will cause 2014 be different? New local markets will take the spotlight. Ourtop 10 markets to watch are entering 2014 with strong fundamentals, including recent job growth and longer-term economic success, as well as recent construction activity typical of vibrant markets. They are, in alphabetical order:

Why are so many of the high-profile markets of 2013 missing from our list? We ruled out markets that were more than a little overvalued according to our latest Bubble Watch, which eliminated most metros in Texas and coastal California. We also struck markets with a large foreclosure inventory (thanks for the data, RealtyTrac), like most of Florida. Our 10 markets to watch, therefore, should have strong activity in 2014 with few headwinds.

Finally, our most certain prediction: Trulia will be giving you the inside scoop on the housing market in 2014. Our Housing Barometer will track the recovery; our Price and Rent Monitors are the earliest leading indicators of how asking prices and rents are trending nationally and locally; our Rent vs Buy reports will lay out all the math; and we’ll keep analyzing home-search patterns, demographics trends, affordability, and more. We can’t wait for the year to begin.

Home Prices Rise, Putting Country in Buying Mood

Americans are in a buying mood, thanks largely to the housing recovery.

The latest sign emerged Tuesday as the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller home price index posted the biggest gains in seven years. Housing prices rose in every one of the 20 cities tracked, continuing a trend that began three months ago. Similar strength has appeared in new and existing home sales and in building permits, as rising home prices are encouraging construction firms to accelerate building and hiring.

The broad-based housing improvements appear to be buoying consumer confidence and spending, countering fears earlier this year that many consumers would pull back in response to government austerity measures.

In January, the two-year-old payroll tax holiday ended, stripping about $700 from the average household’s annual income, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. Federal government spending cuts that started in March are also serving as a drag on economic growth, economists say. And some recent data on other parts of the economy, like manufacturing and exports, have also disappointed.

Yet consumer confidence reached a five-year high in May, according to a Conference Board report also released on Tuesday, with big improvements in Americans’ views about both the current economy and future economic conditions. Consumer spending has also been strikingly resilient so far this year, given the tax hikes.

“Five years after the start of the financial crisis in earnest, and four years and a week’s time from the beginning of the economic recovery, we’re finally starting to get more of a pickup,” said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics. “It’s been a very drawn-out process, but you have to remember what we’ve been digging our way out of.”

The recent decline in gas prices is probably helping, as are increases in the stock market even though only about half of Americans own any equities. Perhaps most important, economists say, the growth in the value of the existing housing stock means that homeowners around the country are finally feeling richer, and that so-called wealth effect is probably making consumers loosen their purse strings a bit.

The positive impact of rising home values and the appreciating stock market is expected to offset at least a third of the fiscal tightening, according to Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomic Advisors.

The Case-Shiller 20-city composite index rose 10.9 percent over the last year, the biggest increase since April 2006. Several cities — Charlotte, N.C.; Los Angeles; Portland, Ore.; Seattle; and Tampa, Fla. — had their largest month-over-month gains in more than seven years.

Stock markets rose on the news, with the S.& P. 500-stock index up 10.46, or 0.63 percent, at 1,660.06 and the Dow up 106.29, or 0.69 percent, at 15,409.39 at the close on Tuesday. The Nasdaq was up 29.74, or 0.86 percent, at 3,488.89. The 10-year Treasury yield surged to 2.17 percent, its highest level in over a year.

The double-digit housing price increase is being driven by a confluence of factors.

For one, employers have added jobs for 31 straight months, so families are willing to start buying again. At the same time, the inventory of homes available on the market remains unusually low, thanks to little new building in the last few years and the large number of homeowners who are still underwater on their mortgages, making them reluctant to sell at a cash loss.

Now there are signs that higher prices are beginning to encourage some would-be sellers to come off the sidelines and place their homes on the market. That could be healthy for the market, countering concerns that housing might become overvalued again.

“You’ve had this dynamic that has been favorable for price increases now, but it’s also favorable for supply to come back on market, so that will mean some moderation in the pace of price increases,” said Daniel Silver, an economist at JPMorgan Chase, who said that he expected home prices to continue growing but not necessarily at the double-digit rate seen in May.

Construction has been picking up, too, in response to the rise in home prices, but builders cannot bring homes to the market as quickly as buyers want them.

Empire State Home Sales, Prices Climb as Inventory Continues to fall

The New York State housing market continued to build on its early 2013 momentum with April gains in closed sales, median price and pending sales, according to the housing market report released today by the New York State Association of REALTORS. April 2013 closed sales for existing single-family homes, townhomes and condos were up 8.5 percent compared to April 2012, while the median price and pending sales rose 10 percent and 19 percent, respectively.  Year-to-date closed sales are 5.4 percent ahead of the first four months of 2012.

“The numbers support what New York’s REALTORS have been reporting with regard to strong buyer activity,” said Duncan R. MacKenzie, NYSAR CEO. “The gains may have been higher had inventory not been constrained. The number of homes for sale across the state is 17.7-percent below April 2012 level,” he noted.
“The fact that pending sales are at their highest level since April 2010 when the federal tax credit was in play certainly bodes well for our 2013 market going forward into our typically most active late-spring and summer period,” said MacKenzie. “We believe that as prices continue to increase, sellers, who have been waiting for the market to swing to their favor, will come off the sidelines to help meet buyer demand.”
The April market posted 7,121 closed sales, up 8.5 percent from the April 2012 total of 6,564. The year-to-date (Jan. 1 – April 30) sales total of 25,980 represents a 5.4-percent increase from the same period last year.
The statewide median sales price reached $218,875, an increase of 10 percent compared to the April 2012 median of $199,000, marking 11 straight months of rising or stable year-over-year median price comparisons. The year-to-date (Jan. 1 – April 30) median sales price of $217,000 represents a 5.9-percent increase from the same period last year.
Pending sales jumped 19.9 percent to 11,382 in April 2013 compared to 9,496 in April 2012.
The months supply of inventory dropped 25.4 percent in April to 9.7 months supply. It was at 13 months in April 2012. A 6 month to 6.5 month supply is considered to be a balanced market. Inventory stood at 84,104 units in April 2013, a decrease of 17.7 percent compared to April 2012.

Additional data is available at http://www.nysar.com/industry-resources/market-data

Editor’s Note: All data is compiled from multiple listing services in the state of New York and the data now include townhomes and condominiums in addition to existing single-family homes.
The New York State Association of REALTORS is a not-for-profit trade organization representing more than 47,000 of New York State’s real estate professionals. The term REALTOR is a registered trademark, which identifies real estate professionals who subscribe to a strict code of ethics as members of the National Association of REALTORS. These REALTORS are also members of the New York State Association of REALTORS as well as their local board or association of REALTORS.

April Home Sales Up 6 Percent in Albany Area

Closed sales of homes increased 6 percent in April in the Albany, NY region while sales contracts, a sign of future activity, rose 15 percent, according to preliminary figures released today.

The median sale price increased 4 percent, to $194,600, and the average price increased 5 percent, to $217,340 on homes sold through the Capital Region Multiple Listing Service.

Total inventory of homes for sale fell 14.1 percent.

The data, which was released by the Greater Capital Association of Realtors, is a sign that the residential sales market “has reached or is close to balance between buyers and sellers,” GCAR officials said.

Sellers are no longer at a negotiating disadvantage as they had been during the five-year long slump that was triggered by the recession, said Miguel Berger, GCAR president. Historically low mortgage interest rates are one of the reasons activity has picked up.

“Clearly buyers are returning to the market,” Berger said. “And as we see the market start to balance itself we can also report that housing prices are appreciating at a ‘normal’ rate. All in all the market appears to be healthy and we expect this to be a long term trend.”

The sales results for the four largest counties in the CRMLS were:

Albany County: closed sales down 11 percent; pending sales up 21 percent; median price up 4 percent, $198,000; average price up 4 percent, $225,585

Rensselaer County: closed sales up 4 percent; pending sales up 29 percent; median price down 8 percent, to $165,000; average price down 19 percent, $166,639

Saratoga County: closed sales up 24 percent; pending sales up 17 percent; median price up 7 percent, $260,000; average price up 8 percent, $282,026

Schenectady County: closed sales up 24 percent; pending sales up 11 percent; median price down 6 percent, $149,200; average price down 5 percent, $171,561

Housing Market Accelerates

Home prices are rising at the fastest rate in seven years, with some communities seeing double-digit gains, as buyers are returning to a market where the number of properties for sale is in short supply.

 

Housing prices are up by double digits in Miami and several other markets over the past year. Here, a prospective sale in Miami earlier this year.

The U.S. housing recovery continues as home prices grew at their highest annual growth rate since 2006, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller survey. Nick Timiraos has details. Photo: AP.

5 Takeaways

From the outlook for price increases to performance during the seasonal slowdown, here arefive takeaways from the report.

Which Cities Did Best?

Even with the slower winter season, 11 cities posted monthly increases. On an adjusted basis, no city reported a monthly decline. This sortable table ranks the metro areas.

Homeownership Falls to 1995 Levels

Homeownership in the United States continued to tick downward, hitting its lowest rate in nearly 18 years, according to Census Bureau data released Tuesday. Here is an explanation.

Prices increased 9.3% in February from a year earlier while mortgage-interest rates hovered near record lows, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index that tracks home prices in 20 major metropolitan areas. All 20 cities posted year-over-year gains for the second consecutive month, which hasn’t happened since 2005, before the crash.

In some of the hardest-hit markets, the gains have been particularly heady. Home prices rose 23% from one year ago in Phoenix and 18.9% in San Francisco. Nationally, the median home price in March stood at $184,300, well below the peak of $230,400 in 2006 but up from $154,600 in January 2012.

“Nobody that I’m aware of anticipated the kind of price growth that we’ve had,” said Budge Huskey, chief executive of Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. “It’s simple supply and demand.”

The Federal Reserve, whose policies have kept rates low, has a lot riding on the housing-market rebound. The encouraging data come as other aspects of the recovery disappoint: Hiring remains patchy and the unemployment rate, at 7.6% in March, is more than 2½ percentage points above where it was when the recession started in late 2007. Consumer-spending data this week, while solid, pointed to some second-half headwind.
The real-estate market’s brisk rebound also raises concerns among some observers that traditional buyers, facing still-stringent mortgage-lending standards, are being squeezed out because investors are able to make winning bids by offering to pay in cash. Others are concerned that the pace of recent price gains isn’t sustainable.

For now, recent data suggest home-price gains are likely to continue. Sales of previously owned homes rose by 10.3% from one year ago in March, even as supplies of homes for sale fell by 16.8%. The Wall Street Journal’s quarterly survey of market conditions in 28 metropolitan areas showed very low supplies of homes available in a rising number of markets, including a less-than-three-month supply in a dozen markets, including the two hottest—Phoenix and San Francisco.

Supplies have dwindled as banks have pushed fewer homes through foreclosure and because many homeowners are either unable or unwilling to sell due to a variety of factors related to the housing-crash hangover. Meanwhile, demand has picked up as the economy has added jobs, which has boosted household formation. Rising rents and falling mortgage rates have made ownership more attractive.

The housing rebound is also closely tied to the Fed’s campaign to lower interest rates, which has sped along the recovery in two key ways. First, by reducing yields on a range of assets, the Fed has made housing a more attractive investment. Investors of all sizes have been buying homes, often with cash, and converting them into rentals.

Indeed, prices are rising even as the homeownership rate fell during the first quarter to 65%, reaching its lowest level since 1995, according to a separate report Tuesday by the Census Bureau. The report showed that relative to 2004, there were 7.2 million more renters but just 400,000 new homeowners, according to Capital Economics.

Lower mortgage rates spurred by the Fed have also created urgency for traditional buyers, and they have made buyers who take out mortgages more immune to recent price increases. Even with the gains in home prices, housing is more affordable than at any time in the past 30 years because mortgage rates are so low.

At current mortgage rates near 3.5%, home values would need to rise by 32% nationally—and by as much as 48% in markets across the Midwest and north Florida—for affordability to return to its long-run average, according to an analysis by John Burns Real Estate Consulting in Irvine, Calif.

Still, the speed of recent price gains has raised concerns that prices could be going up too fast relative to incomes. “There is enough improvement in the underlying fundamentals to suggest that the housing recovery is well on its way. The only question that somebody could legitimately ask is, ‘Is the pace sustainable?’ ” Mr. Huskey said. “You cannot suggest that we could sustain double-digit gains year after year.”

Normally, he said, prices should rise by 3% to 4%, outpacing inflation modestly. No one should be “buying a home because they think the 23% increase in Phoenix is going to be repeated two or three years in a row,” Mr. Huskey said.

Economists say that, for now, home prices in most parts of the country remain in line or below their long-run relationship with incomes and rents. “In many instances, owning still beats renting,” said Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank DBK.XE +6.11% . “I don’t think this is bubble-like at all.”

Also, many parts of the country that are seeing the strongest price increases witnessed some of the largest declines. In those markets, “there is room for prices to rise relative to incomes because they are at such a low base,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist at Freddie MacFMCC -1.22% .

The concern is that home prices could more easily rise above their traditional relationship to incomes because lower mortgage rates will enable buyers to swallow price increases. “We are encouraging people to buy an asset that, when [mortgage] rates go back to 6% to 8%, will look a bit overpriced,” said Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow, the real-estate website.

For now, buyers are scrambling. Matthew Sinn and his wife decided to buy a home earlier this year in St. Petersburg, Fla., after talking to a friend who works in real estate.

The friend “said if you don’t get in now, things are going to skyrocket over the next year,” said Mr. Sinn, a 35-year-old television producer who paid $191,000 for a three-bedroom townhome. He said they were worried that “the homes you want—that you can afford—you might be priced out of buying a year from now.”

Mr. Sinn and his wife raised their initial offer by $6,000 in order to beat a competing bid from an investor paying cash.