Case-Shiller Index: Price growth up modestly in January

According to the latest iteration of the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, January saw annual home price growth of 3.9%.

That’s a modest uptick from the previous month’s 3.7% annual rate, but the slight bump made January’s annual pace the fastest in 12 months. The index’s 10- and 20-City Composites also saw year-over-year increases, with the 10-City up 2.6% (up from 2.3% in December) and the 20-City up 3.1% (up from 2.8).

“The trend of stable growth established in 2019 continued into the first month of the new year,” said Craig J. Lazzara, managing director and global head of index investment strategy at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

“Results for the month were broad-based, with gains in every city in our 20-City Composite; 14 of the 20 cities saw accelerating prices. As has been the case since mid-2019, after a long period of decelerating price increases, the National, 10-City, and 20-City Composites all rose at a faster rate in January than they had done in December.

Phoenix topped metros in the 20-City Composite for the eighth straight month, with a 6.9% year-over-year gain. Seattle and Tampa were next, both registering 5.1% annual climbs. Prices were strong in the West and South, while comparatively weak in the Midwest and Northeast, Lazzara observed.

Month over month, both the national index and 20-City Composite were flat in January, while the 10-City Composite logged a decrease of 0.1% before seasonal adjustment. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the national index posted a slight gain of 0.5%, while the 10- and 20-City Composites saw 0.3% increases.

Of course, these results don’t reflect the large-scale impact sure to be wrought by coronavirus on housing, instead showing the relative muscle the real estate sphere was flexing before the outbreak really hit the United States hard.

“Indeed,” said Zillow economist Matthew Speakman, “the world is a very different place than it was in January, but today’s Case-Shiller release is sure to offer some fond memories of the not-so-distant past, and some hope that the industry can continue the growing momentum it was riding to begin the year once this crisis passes.”

Home price gains, in fact, are likely to keep outpacing inflation for Case-Shiller Index values until March’s data (to be released in May). This is because most sales that close during March are based on contracts signed in January and February, well before COVID-19 began truly impacting the economy en masse.

Once that threshold is crossed, CoreLogic chief economist Frank Nothaft, like other experts, anticipates a marked downturn.

“COVID-19 continues to place a cloud over the housing market as it enters the spring buying season. Home sales will likely be much lower than had been previously expected, as prospective buyers and potential sellers shelter in place in many urban centers.”


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