Despite historically low housing inventory, buyer demand remained strong in the fourth quarter of 2016 and helped propel home prices higher in Illinois and in many U.S. metro areas. What’s ahead for early 2017?

Expect home prices to experience continued positive growth in the first quarter of this year with home sales also increasing at a mild growth rate, according to a new first quarter forecast from the Regional Economics Application Laboratory at the University of Illinois. Download the forecast, which also breaks down expectations for the state’s 10 metropolitan statistical areas (or MSAs). You can find additional information about the Illinois housing market at Illinois REALTORS® MarketStats.

Nationally, the fourth quarter housing market was stronger in a majority of U.S. metro areas, the National Association of REALTORS® reported today. Home prices were back to previous peak levels in more than half of the markets NAR measures. Read NAR’s news release on the data and market trends.

“Buyer interest stayed elevated in most areas thanks to mortgage rates under 4 percent for most of the year and the creation of 1.7 million new jobs edging the job market closer to full employment. At the same time, the inability for supply to catch up with this demand drove prices higher and continued to put a tight affordability squeeze on those trying to reach the market,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in the release.

In other headlines:

Mortgage Rates in Holding Pattern – Freddie Mac

The Number One Design Style for 2017 Is … – NAR’s Styled, Staged & Sold