September Home Price Gains Solid, but Slowing

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Home prices rose 12% again in September, compared with the same month a year ago, for a 19th consecutive monthly year-over-year gain, according to research firm CoreLogic Inc. (NYSE: CLGX). Home prices rose 0.2% from August to September. The data includes sales of distressed properties, and the index is a non-seasonally adjusted three-month weighted average.

Excluding distressed sales, September prices rose 0.3% compared with August, and the year-over-year price rose by 10.8%. Home prices have reached their highest level since May 2008, but they remain 17.4% below their April 2006 peak when distressed sales are counted, and 13.1% below the peak when distressed sales are excluded.

In the month of September, home builder stocks peaked in mid-month before dropping again. Toll Brothers Inc. (NYSE: TOL) posted a gain of about 6%, PulteGroup Inc. (NYSE: PHM) rose more than 7% and D.R. Horton Inc. (NYSE: DHI) rose nearly 9%. Home building stock gains outpaced home improvement stock gains by a large margin. Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) was up less than 2% and Lowe’s Companies Inc. (NYSE: LOW) was up about 4%.

CoreLogic expects October housing prices to rise another 12.5% year-over-year and to rise by 0.1% month-over-month. Excluding distressed sales, CoreLogic’s year-over-year increase for October is forecast at 11.2%, and the month-over-month estimate is forecast to rise by 0.1%.

The company’s CEO noted:

Average home prices in nearly half the states are now within striking distance of their pre-downturn pricing peaks. We are seeing a slowdown in the rate of price appreciation over the past few months from the rapid pace experienced over the first half of this year. This deceleration is natural and should help keep market fundamentals in balance over the longer-term.

Including distressed sales, September year-over-year home prices rose the most in Nevada (prices up 25.3%), California (22.5%), Arizona (14.6%), Georgia (14.8%) and Michigan (13.9%). The states with the smallest gains are West Virginia (0.9%), Arkansas (1.3%), New Mexico (2%), Delaware (2%) and Mississippi (2.1%). No states experienced a year-over-year price decline in September, and four states reached home price peaks.

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