January home prices continued their rise across the country over the last 12 months, although monthly data reveal slowing increases and seasonal weakness, according to the latest S&P/ Case Shiller Home Price Indices.
Indices up 4.4 to 4.6 Percent
Both the 10-City and 20-City Composites saw year-over-year increases in January compared to December. The 10-City Composite gained 4.4 percent year-over-year, up from 4.3 percent in December. The 20-City Composite gained 4.6 percent year-over-year, compared to a 4.4 percent increase in December. The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, recorded a 4.5 percent annual gain in January 2015 versus a 4.6 percent increase in December 2014.
Denver and Miami reported the highest year-over-year gains, as prices increased by 8.4 percent and 8.3 percent, respectively, over the last 12 months. Fourteen cities reported higher price increases in the year ended January 2015 over the year ended December 2014. Chicago led the way with a reported increase of 2.5 percent, up 110 basis points from December. Six cities reported declines, with San Francisco leading the declining annual returns with a reported rate of 7.9%, down from 9.4 percent annually.
Regional patterns in recent months continue: strength in the west and southwest paced by Denver and Dallas with results ahead of the national index in the California cities, the Pacific Northwest and Las Vegas. The northeast and Midwest are mostly weaker than the national index,” says David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee for S&P Dow Jones Indices.
However, not all is rosy. The National index declined for the fifth consecutive month in January, reporting a -0.1 percent change for the month. Both the 10- and 20-City Composites reported virtually flat month-over-month changes. Of the nine cities that reported increases, Charlotte, Miami, and San Diego led all cities in January with increases of 0.7 percent. San Francisco reported the largest decrease of all 20 cities, with a month-over-month decrease of -0.9 percent. Seattle and Washington D.C. reported decreases of -0.5 percent. Unusually cold and wet weather may have weakened activity in some cities.
“Despite price gains, the housing market faces some difficulties,” says Blitzer. “Home prices are rising roughly twice as fast as wages, putting pressure on potential homebuyers and heightening the risk that any uptick in interest rates could be a major setback. Moreover, the new home sector is weak; residential construction is still below its pre-crisis peak. Any time before 2008 that housing starts were as low as the current rate of one million, the economy was in a recession.”
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