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Area’s home prices up 9 percent

Scant inventory is driving the gains

Greater Boston housing prices rose solidly in January, continuing the trend of steadily increasing home values, according to a closely watched index that measures the nation’s housing markets.

The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices reported Tuesday that Boston-area home prices rose 9 percent in January from a year earlier. Nationally, home prices rose 13 percent during the same period.

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“Expectations and recent data point to continued home price gains for 2014,” David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a statement. “Although most analysts do not expect the same rapid increases we saw last year, the consensus is for moderating gains.”

Greater Boston prices rose about 10 percent in 2013, according to the Case-Shiller indices. Data reported by other groups have also shown steady increases.

A shortage of homes on the market, coupled with strong demand, has contributed to rising prices in Massachusetts, industry officials and analysts say.

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On Tuesday, the Massachusetts Association of Realtors reported that even though home prices declined last month, the median price of a single-family home rose to $294,950, up 7.3 percent from February 2013. The median condo price rose 9.1 percent to $283,000.

The association attributed both the decline in sales and increase in prices to tight inventory. Single-family home listings fell nearly 20 percent last month, compared to a year earlier. It was the 24th straight month that inventories declined from year-earlier levels.

Single-family homes stayed on the market four months, on average, or about three weeks less than a year before, February data show. Condos remained on the market about three months, a month less than a year earlier.

Megan Woolhouse
can be reached at megan.woolhouse@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @megwoolhouse.
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