The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index reported a 14.6% annual gain in April — the highest national index since the index was established in 1987.
April’s year-over-year price jump, up from a 13.3% increase in March, marked the 11th straight month of annual growth throughout the country, continuing the persistent rise of residential prices as supply shortages and high demand drive the market. Price growth in the nation’s largest cities was also strong, with the 10-City and 20-City Composite Indices posting annual growth of 14.4% and 14.9%, respectively (up from 12.9% and 13.4% in the previous month).
“April’s performance was truly extraordinary,” remarked Craig J. Lazzara, managing director and global head of index investment strategy at S&P DJI. “The 14.6% gain in the National Composite is literally the highest reading in more than 30 years of S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller data.
“Housing prices in all 20 cities rose; price gains in all 20 cities accelerated; price gains in all 20 cities were in the top quartile of historical performance. In 15 cities, price gains were in top decile.”
Five cities – Charlotte, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, and Seattle – joined the National Composite in posting their all-time highest 12-month gains.
Phoenix continues to lead the cities tracked by the index in year-over-year price growth, with a whopping 22.3% price increase from April 2020. San Diego followed at 21.6%, with Seattle next at 20.2%.
And while slowing price growth has been anticipated, the upward pressures on home prices showing little risk of subsiding in the near-future. Because of this, it’s probable that prices are going to continue escalating rapidly over the next few months, said Selma Hepp, CoreLogic’s deputy chief economist.
“Although home price growth is reaching new highs, the risk of price declines has fallen far below pre-pandemic and summer 2006 levels, when homes prices last peaked,” Hepp said. “This is likely because favorable mortgage rates and income growth continue to keep the ratio of mortgage payments to monthly household income much lower today. Consequently, elevated buyer demand, coupled with lacking for-sale inventories, will continue putting pressure on prices — which are likely to remain at double-digit increases through the third quarter of 2021.”
Rocketing price acceleration has been met with concerns, especially as many first-time buyers have found themselves squeezed out of entry-level housing due to affordability issues. All three price tiers continued increasing by double-digit rates in April, though prices in the lower third of the market jumped 16.5% on average in April — highest among the three price tiers, consistent since home price recovery began in 2012.
The average growth among medium-tier priced homes followed at 15.8%, while prices in the highest-tier were up 15.1% on average.
But according to Hepp, housing “remains substantially more affordable than 15 years ago.”
“The reason is that while home price levels relative to household incomes are similar to 2006 levels, current mortgage interest rates are more than 50% lower, resulting in notably lower ratios of mortgage payments to monthly household income, and to monthly rent payments, compared to today,” she said.