The S&P/Case-Shiller home price index for February was unchanged for both the 20-city and 10-city composite indexes. The 20-city composite rose 12.9% year-over-year, slightly below the consensus estimate for a gain of 13%. The consensus estimate for month-over-month growth called for an increase of 0.7%. The 10-city index rose 13.1% year-over-year in February.
The index tracks prices on a three-month rolling average. February represents the three-month average of December, January and February prices.
Average home prices at the end of 2013 were back at their levels in mid-2004.
Compared with their peak in the summer of 2006, home prices on both indexes remain down about 20%. Since the low of March 2012, home prices are up 23% on both the 10-city and 20-city indexes.
The chairman of the S&P index committee said:
The annual rates cooled the most we’ve seen in some time. The three California cities and Las Vegas have the strongest increases over the last 12 months as the West continues to lead. Denver and Dallas remain the only cities which have reached new post-crisis price peaks. The Northeast with New York, Washington and Boston are seeing some of the slowest year-over-year gains. However, even there prices are above their levels of early 2013. On a month-to-month basis, there is clear weakness. Seasonally adjusted data show prices rose in 19 cities, but a majority at a slower pace than in January.
Month-over-month growth has been weak since November’s report, so it is difficult to attribute the February decline entirely to the weather. Combined with the slowdown in annual growth, home prices might become attractive again to first-time buyers.