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home_prices_rise_arrowHome prices continued their rise across the country over the last 12 months, with yet another increase in September, according to recently released S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

Covering all nine U.S. census divisions, the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index recorded a slightly higher year-over-year gain with a 4.9 percent annual increase in September 2015 versus a 4.6 percent increase in August 2015. The 10-City Composite increased 5.0 percent in the year to September compared to 4.7 percent previously. The 20-City Composite’s year-over-year gain was 5.5 percent versus 5.1 percent in the year to September. After adjusting for the CPI core rate of inflation, the S&P/Case Shiller National Home Price Index rose 3 percent from September 2014 to September 2015.

“Home prices and housing continue to show strength with home prices rising at more than double the rate of inflation,” says David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

San Francisco, Denver and Portland reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities with double-digit price increases of 11.2 percent, 10.9 percent, and 10.1 percent, respectively. Seventeen cities reported greater price increases in the year ending September 2015 versus the year ending August 2015. Phoenix had the longest streak of year-over-year increases, reporting a gain of 5.3 percent in September 2015, the tenth consecutive increase in annual price gains.

Month-over-Month

Before seasonal adjustment, the National Index posted a gain of 0.2 percent month-over-month in September. The 10-City Composite and 20-City Composite both reported gains of 0.2 percent month-over-month in September. After seasonal adjustment, the National Index posted a gain of 0.8 percent, while the 10-City and 20-City Composites both increased 0.6 percent month-over-month. Fifteen of 20 cities reported increases in September before seasonal adjustment; after seasonal adjustment, 19 cities increased for the month.

“The general economy appeared to slow slightly earlier in the fall, but is now showing renewed strength,” says Blitzer. “With unemployment at 5 percent and hints of higher inflation in the CPI, most analysts expect the Federal Reserve to raise its Fed Funds target range to 25 to 50 basis points, the first increase since 2006. While this will make news, it is not likely to push mortgage rates far above the recent level of 4 percent on 30 year conventional loans. In the last year, mortgage rates have moved in a narrow range as home prices have risen; it will take much more from the Fed to slow home price gains.

“The strength seen in home prices since the bottom in 2012 led some to wonder if we’re entering a new bubble. While bubbles can only be reliably identified in hindsight, one useful measure compares the increase in home prices to the change in rents. The first chart below shows the year-over-year change in the S&P/Case-Shiller National Home Price Index and the year-overyear change in the rent of primary residence series reported as part of the Consumer Price Index. Home prices are far more volatile. At the same time, the most recent data do not show a huge spread between the two series.”

View the entire report here.

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