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Home-price growth cools in April

U.S. home prices moved up at a slower pace in April, but are still rising solidly across most of America's largest cities. Seattle, Las Vegas and San Francisco have the hottest markets, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller price report.

Prices on a national basis were up 6.4 percent year over year in April, down from 6.5 percent in March, according to Case-Shiller. The 10-city and 20-city composite indices rose on an annualized basis by 6.2 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively, as of April. The indices also recorded slower annual growth than in March, Case-Shiller reported. 

homeshillerOver the month, home prices rose by 1 percent in April, but by just 30 basis points on a seasonally adjusted basis. Although cooling off on a national basis, home-price growth accelerated on an annual basis in nine out of the 20 tracked cities.  

“Cities west of the Rocky mountains continue to lead price increases, with Seattle, Las Vegas and San Francisco ranking one, two and three based on price movements in the trailing 12 months," said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices."The favorable economy and moderate mortgage rates both support recent gains in housing."   

Seattle posted the highest annual home-price gain, at 13.1 percent, followed by Las Vegas and San Francisco, at 12.7 percent and 10.9 percent, respectively.

Without adjusting for inflation, Case-Shiller’s national index has surpassed its previous 2006 peak by 8.8 percent. Prices in 10 out of America’s top 20 cities have surpassed their previous peak in prices. When adjusting for inflation, however, the index remains 14 percent lower than the previous record level in 2006, Blizer said. 

“If one adjusts the price movements for inflation since 2006, a very different picture emerges,” Blitzer said. “Only three cities – Dallas, Denver and Seattle – are ahead in real, or inflation-adjusted, terms," he said.

All 20 cities tracked by Case-Shiller have seen year-over-year increases of 3 percent or higher, solidly ahead of the rate of inflation and average wage gains. Blitzer said low supply of homes for sale is one factor driving prices up.

Economists said the slower pace of the growth was likely a reflection of rising interest rates. National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said the monthly gain was one of the lowest over the past 18 months, representing an annualized home-price growth rate of 4.1 percent.

“Prices were generally rising more strongly in the lower price brackets, while the prices of expensive homes are beginning to level off. There are, however, unambiguous signs of home-prices softening across the board,” Yun said. 


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