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Home prices decline in several U.S. cities

Home prices fell in September in several major cities, another sign that the U.S. housing market has slowed, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index.

Prices fell over the month in Seattle (down 1.3 percent); San Diego (down 0.3 percent); Los Angeles (down 0.2 percent); and Washington, D.C. (down 0.2 percent), according to Case-Shiller. Prices also fell in September by 0.1 percent in Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis and Portland, the company reported. These aren't seasonally adjusted. 

hompricereportIn the once-hot Seattle market, prices fell steeply for the second consecutive month, after declining 1.6 percent in August. Prices also declined for the second consecutive month in San Diego and Portland.

The year-over-year price gain in Seattle was still 8.4 percent, ranking it third in annual price growth among U.S. cities behind Las Vegas (up 13.5 percent year over year) and San Francisco (up 9.9 percent). Home prices in Seattle have slowed from double-digit gains earlier this year, however.

Nine of the 20 cities tracked by Case-Shiller saw price gains in September, but most of those cities were located in relatively modest-priced Midwest or South markets (Detroit, Cleveland, Atlanta as well as Charlotte, North Carolina), or in cities especially hit hard by the last housing crash that are still recovering (Las Vegas; Phoenix; and Tampa, Florida).

One exception was Miami, where prices are comparatively high relative to other cities, but rose a further 0.2 percent in September.

On a month over month basis as of September, Phoenix (where home prices were up 0.8 percent); Las Vegas (up 0.6 percent); and Tampa (up 0.6 percent) saw the greatest price appreciation.

On a nationwide basis, home prices rose by 0.1 percent in September and 5.5 percent year over year, down from an annual gain of 5.7 percent in August, Case-Shiller reported. The 10-city and 20-city composites slowed to 4.8 percent and 5.1 percent annual growth, respectively.    

“Home prices plus data on house sales and construction confirm the slowdown in housing,” said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. Blitzer noted that new- and existing-home sales peaked in November 2017, and existing-home sales are down by nearly 10 percent compared to that peak. He also pointed out that home starts were down 8.7 percent year over year as of November and that builder confidence is waning. In addition, he said mortgage rates are about 1 percentage point higher than a year ago. 

CoreLogic's Ralph McLaughlin, deputy chief economist and executive of research and insights, said prices are cooling in the wake of rising for-sale inventory levels and higher rates.

"On the supply side, slow but steady growth in inventory is providing relief to homebuyers," McLaughlin said. "On the demand side, years of price growth outpacing income growth, as well as rising mortgage rates, are making the cost of buying homes increasingly expensive." 

Earlier this week, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported that home prices rose 1.3 percent in the third quarter, and 6.3 percent between the third quarters of 2017 and 2018. This reflects the sales prices of homes purchased with loans acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Several regions and more than two-thirds of states had slower annual price gains, according to FHFA.


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