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Home prices have been rising steadily now for more than two years, but suddenly the gains are accelerating. This is yet another turnaround in what is fast becoming an undulating national home price picture.
Prices had jumped so far so fast in 2013, largely due to investor demand on the low end of housing, that affordability weakened and sales waned pretty significantly by the start of 2014. Prices then reacted, still gaining, but the national values began shrinking steadily.
The result was a resurgence in home sales last summer and into the fall. Low mortgage rates also contributed to demand. Supply, however, was not and is not keeping up with new demand, and so the vicious circle begins once again. Shrinking supply in markets large and small across the country is resulting in bidding wars, re-accelerating prices.
This intense push-pull sensitivity between price and supply is exacerbated by the fact that home builders are still operating at anemic volumes. Housing starts are higher than they were a year ago, but not nearly back to "normal" levels nor even close enough to meet the pent-up demand left over from the recession.
The intense scrutiny of home values in the post-housing crash era has potential buyers in this spring season ever more sensitive to price. They know they are paying more and want to be sure they are getting the best for their hard-earned buck.
Judging value can be difficult, of course, so we are embarking on a new and improved edition of Million Dollar Homes. Throughout the day on CNBC television, we will ask our CNBC show anchors to guess the values of different homes. We will focus on one metropolitan area in each show, explaining the vital statistics of that particular housing market. We will then show three homes for sale in the market. One will be priced under $1 million, one above and one right at the $1 million mark. Anchors will be asked to pick the million dollar home. Real estate expert and CNBC contributor Dolly Lenz will reveal the actual home priced at $1 million dollars, and explain why the homes are priced as they are.