U.S. home prices were up 5.7 percent year-over-year, according to the recently released S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, covering all nine U.S. Census divisions. The report recorded a slightly higher year-over-year gain with a 5.4 percent annual increase in December 2015 versus a 5.2 percent increase in November 2015. The 10-City Composite increased 5.1 percent in the year to December compared to 5.2 percent previously. The 20-City Composite’s year-over-year gain was 5.7 percent, the same as November.
Portland, San Francisco and Denver continue to report the highest year over year gains among the 20 cities with another month of double digit annual price increases. Portland led the way with an 11.4 percent year-over-year price increase, followed by San Francisco with 10.3 percent and Denver with a 10.2 percent increase. Thirteen cities reported greater price increases in the year ending December 2015 versus the year ending November 2015. Phoenix had the longest streak of year-over-year increases, reporting a gain of 6.3 percent in December 2015, and the twelfth consecutive increase in annual price gains. Detroit posted a 7.1 percent year-over-year price, up from 6.3 percent, the largest annual increase this month.
“While home prices continue to rise, the pace is slowing a bit,” says David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Seasonally adjusted, Miami had lower prices this month than last and 10 other cities saw smaller increases than last month. Year-over-year, seven cities saw the rate of price increases wane. Even with some moderation, home prices in all but one city are rising faster than the 2.2 percent year-over-year increase in the CPI core rate of inflation. Sparked by the stock market’s turmoil since the beginning of the year, some are concerned that the current economic expansion is aging quite rapidly. The recovery is six years old, but recoveries do not typically die of old age. Housing construction, like much of the economy, got off to a slow start in 2009-2010 and is only now beginning to show some serious strength.”
Before seasonal adjustment, the National Index posted a gain of 0.1 percent month-over-month in December. The 10- City Composite decreased by 0.1 percent and the 20-City Composite remained unchanged in December. After seasonal adjustment, the National and 20-City Composites Index both recorded a monthly increase of 0.8 percent. The 10-City Composite increased 0.7 percent month-over-month in December. Ten of 20 cities reported increases in December before seasonal adjustment; after seasonal adjustment, all 19 cities increased for the month.
“As we predicted, this year has started off strong given pent up demand and limited supply,” says Realtor.com chief economist Jonathan Smoke. This January reading is the lowest January measure of supply since January 2005. We’ve now seen 41 straight months of tight supply. In conditions of tight supply, home values have strong support, but potential buyers will continue to face challenges finding a home for sale that meets their needs. We’re not seeing evidence of the stock market’s declines in January and early February slowing down the pent-up demand primed to buy this spring. In fact the weakness in the financial markets has given buyers another shot at lower mortgage rates, as the average 30-year fixed mortgage is down over 40 basis points from the end of 2015 and solidly back under 3.70 percent.”
“The continued deceleration of price gains is likely to continue as prices normalize in much of the country,” says Quicken Loans vice president Bill Banfield. “Prospective homebuyers are having trouble keeping up with price increases that outpace inflation and average wage growth. However, the especially tight housing markets in the west could see sustained growth as long as the number of prospective homebuyers continue to outnumber available homes.”
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