A survey of 129 metropolitan areas released Tuesday by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) showed a record number scoring double digit growth in housing prices during the 4th Quarter of 2004.

62 of the areas sampled had housing appreciation (adjusted annually) of 10 percent or more. The previous record was 49 areas with double digit increases which occured in the 2nd Quarter of 2004.

The national median price for existing homes in the 4th Quarter was $187,500, up 8.8 percent from the median price one year ago. The annualized figure in the 3rd Quarter of 2004 was 7.5 percent.

Las Vegas continued to lead the way with a stunning 47.3 percent increase in median value over the same quarter last year. The typical home price in Las Vegas during the 4th Quarter was $281,400. The Riverside-San Bernardino, California area was second, up 34.7 percent. 14 other metropolitan areas in the Western Region also had double digit increases.

The third greatest increase nationally was in West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Delray Beach, Florida, where housing prices increased 34 percent to a median of $338,800. Also showing big increases in Florida were the Bradenton area (32 percent) and Melbourne-Titusville-Palm Bay (30.5 percent.) 25 other areas in the Southern Region also made the double digit list.

Only five Midwestern Region areas had increases over 10 percent with Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Iowa leading the list at 13.2 percent. Springfield, Missouri was up 12.4 percent and Milwaukee, Wisconsin 11.3 percent. Median prices in all five areas, however, remained below $200,000.

In the Northeast, the strongest increase was in Atlantic City, New Jersey with a median price of $216,500, up 18.9 percent, followed by New Haven-Meriden, Connecticut and Monmouth-Ocean, New Jersey, each up 16.5 percent to $264,600 and $338,400 respectively. 12 other Northeast areas had price increases of 10 percent or better.

Only two regions had overall median price increases topping 10 percent. In the West prices were up 14.1 percent to $278,000, and in the Northeast the median sales price was $222,500, up 13.5%.

Both the South and the Midwest lagged the nation as a whole. The median in the South increased 8 percent to $169,700 and the Midwest was up 6.9 percent to $151,000.

The study shows that an enormous disparity in housing prices across the country continues to exist. NAR found the lowest median price, $87,000, in Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas follow by Springfield, Illinois ($93,600) and Buffalo-Niagara Falls, New York ($94,800). At the other extreme, the median price in San Francisco in the 4th Quarter was $656,700. Orange County, California was not far behind at $627,500 and San Diego was third with a median price of $569,900.