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Winter Shows No Signs of Cooling in Home Prices

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By Dave Guarino

house_winter(1)Data through November 2013, released recently by S&P Dow Jones Indices for its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices, showed that the 10-City and 20-City Composites increased 13.8 percent and 13.7 percent year-over-year. Dallas posted its highest annual return of 9.9 percent since its inception in 2000. Chicago also stood out with an annual rate of 11.0 percent, its highest since December 1988.

For the month of November, the two Composites declined 0.1 percent. After nine consecutive months of gains, this marks the first decrease since November 2012. Nine out of 20 cities recorded positive monthly returns; of these nine, Boston and Cleveland were the only cities not in the Sun Belt. Minneapolis and San Diego remained relatively flat. After declining last month, Dallas edged up to set a new index high. Denver is 0.6 percent off of its highest level due to two consecutive months of declines.

“November was a good month for home prices,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Despite the slight decline, the 10-City and 20-City Composites showed their best November performance since 2005. Prices typically weaken as we move closer to the winter. Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Phoenix stand out as they have posted 20 or more consecutive monthly gains.

“Beginning June 2012, we saw a steady rise in year-over-year increases. November continued that trend with another strong month although the rate of increase slowed. Looking at the year-over-year returns, the Sun Belt continues to push ahead with Atlanta, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and Tampa taking eight of the top nine spots. Detroit continues to recover but remains the only city with prices below its 2000 level.

“Home prices continue to rise despite last May’s jump in mortgage interest rates. Mortgage applications for purchase were up in recent weeks confirming home builders’ optimism shown by the NAHB survey. Combined with low inflation—1.5 percent in 2013—home owners are enjoying real appreciation and rising equity values. While housing will make further contributions to the economy in 2014, the pace of price gains is likely to slow during the year.”

Nine cities showed price increases from October to November. Miami took the lead with a gain of 1.4 percent and Las Vegas, the previous leader, followed at +0.6 percent. Chicago experienced the largest decline of 1.2 percent. Nine MSAs showed acceleration as measured by their monthly returns – Boston, Cleveland and San Francisco showed returns that were over 50 basis points higher in November compared to October. Last month after experiencing its first decline in 19 months, San Francisco rebounded to positive territory with a 0.4 percent gain in November. Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix and Tampa are the only cities that recorded positive gains for 12 or more consecutive months.

Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Las Vegas, Miami, New York, Tampa and Washington were the nine cities to accelerate on an annual basis. Boston showed an annual rate of 9.8 percent, an improvement of 1.2 percentage points from last month. Cleveland and New York followed with November year-over- year returns of 6.0 percent compared to 4.9 percent for October. Despite the improvement, Cleveland and New York remain the two lowest ranked cities.

Dave Guarino is the Director of Global Index Communications with S&P Dow Jones Indices.

For more information, visit www.housingviews.com.

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