Data released for February 2016 shows that home prices continued their rise across the country over the last 12 months, albeit at a slower clip, according to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.
The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, covering all nine U.S. census divisions, recorded a 5.3 percent annual gain in February, unchanged from the previous month. The 10-City Composite increased 4.6 percent in the year to February, compared to 5.0 percent previously. The 20-City Composite’s year-over-year gain was 5.4 percent, down from 5.7 percent the prior month.
”Home prices continue to rise twice as fast as inflation, but the pace is easing off in the most recent numbers,” says David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The year-over-year figures for the 10-City and 20-City Composites both slowed and 13 of the 20 cities saw slower year-over-year numbers compared to last month. The slower growth rate is evident in the monthly seasonally adjusted numbers: six cities experienced smaller monthly gains in February compared to January, when no city saw growth. Among the six were Seattle, Portland OR, and San Diego, all of which were very strong last time.”
Portland, Seattle, and Denver reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities with another month of annual price increases. Portland led the way with an 11.9 percent year-over-year price increase, followed by Seattle with 11.0 percent, and Denver with a 9.7 percent increase. Seven cities reported greater price increases in the year ending February 2016 versus the year ending January 2016.
Before seasonal adjustment, the National Index posted a gain of 0.2 percent month-over-month in February. The 10-City Composite recorded a 0.1 percent month-over-month increase while the 20-City Composite posted a 0.2 percent increase in February. After seasonal adjustment, the National Index recorded a 0.4 percent month-over-month increase. The 10-City Composite posted a 0.6 percent increase and the 20-City Composite reported a 0.7 percent month-over-month increase after seasonal adjustment. Fourteen of 20 cities reported increases in February before seasonal adjustment; after seasonal adjustment, only 10 cities increased for the month.
“Mortgage defaults are an important measure of the health of the housing market,” says Blitzer. “Memories of the financial crisis are dominated by rising defaults as much as by falling home prices (see first chart). Today as well, the mortgage default rate continues to mirror the path of home prices. Currently, the default rate on first mortgages is about three-quarters of one percent, a touch lower than in 2004. Moreover, the figure has drifted down in the last two years. While financing is not an issue for home buyers, rising prices are a concern in many parts of the country. The visible supply of homes on the market is low at 4.8 months in the last report. Homeowners looking to sell their house and trade up to a larger house or a more desirable location are concerned with finding that new house. Additionally, the pace of new single family home construction and sales has not completely recovered from the recession.”
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