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HS&P Dow Jones Indices recently released the latest results for the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. Data released for January 2016 show that home prices continued their rise across the country over the last 12 months.

“Home prices continue to climb at more than twice the rate of inflation,” says David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The low inventory of homes for sale — currently about a five month supply – means that would-be sellers seeking to trade-up are having a hard time finding a new, larger home. The recovery of the sale and construction of new homes has lagged the gains seen in existing home sales. This may be starting to change: starts of single family homes in February were the highest since November 2007. The single-family-home share of total housing starts was 70 percent in February, up from a low of 57 percent in June 2015, and approaching the 75 percent-80 percent range seen before the housing crisis.”

The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, covering all nine U.S. census divisions, recorded a slightly higher year-over-year gain with a 5.4 percent annual increase in January 2016. The 10-City Composite is up slightly at 5.1 percent for the year. The 20-City Composite’s year-over-year gain is 5.7 percent. After seasonal adjustment, the National, 10-City Composite, and 20-City Composite rose 0.5 percent, 0.8 percent, and 0.7 percent, respectively, from the prior month.

Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco reported 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 11.8 percent year-over-year price increase, followed by Seattle with 10.7 percent, and San Francisco with a 10.5 percent increase. Eleven cities reported greater price increases in the year ending January 2016 versus the year ending December 2015. Phoenix reported an annual gain of 6.1 percent in January 2016 versus 6.3 percent in December 2015, ending its streak of 12 consecutive months of increasing annual gains. The western part of the country saw the largest price gains in the past year; the northeast is the weakest region.

“The primary driver of the rising prices, the lack of inventory, shows the desire for housing remains strong across the country,” says Quicken Loans vice president Bill Banfield. “Continued home price gains give homeowners who are considering a new home one more reason to sell as we approach the spring real estate season.”

Before seasonal adjustment, the National Index, the 10-City Composite, and the 20-City Composite all remained unchanged in January. After seasonal adjustment, all three composites reported strong advances. Eleven of 20 cities reported increases in January before seasonal adjustment; after seasonal adjustment, all 20 cities increased for the month.

“While low inventories and short supply are boosting prices, financing continues to be a concern for some potential purchasers, particularly young adults and first time home buyers,” says Blitzer. “The issue is availability of credit for people with substantial student or credit card debt. While rising home prices are certainly a factor deterring home purchases, individual financial positions are more important than local housing market conditions. One hopeful sign is that the home ownership rate, at 63.7 percent in the 2015 fourth quarter, may be turning around. It is up slightly from 63.5 percent in the 2015 second quarter but far below the 2004 high of 69.1 percent.”

For more information, visit www.homeprice.spdji.com.

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