December Home Prices Continue Torrid Growth Pace

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The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index rose 6.3% year over year in December to a non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) index of 196.23. The month-over-month percentage increase was 0.2%.

In all U.S. cities included in the 20-city home price index, December house prices increased year over year, and 14 of 20 also posted NSA month-over-month increases. Seattle (12.7%), Las Vegas (11.1%) and San Francisco (9.2%) posted the largest year-over-year gains. Las Vegas (0.8%) and Los Angeles (0.7%) posted the largest month-over-month increases, while Chicago fell by 0.6%, Minneapolis slipped 0.4% and Cleveland dipped 0.3%.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller NSA home price indexes for December increased by 6.3% year over year for the 20-city composite index and by 6% for the 10-city composite index.

Economists had estimated an NSA year-over-year gain in the 20-city index of 6.4%. The NSA monthly gain of 0.2% came in one tick higher than expected.

The index tracks prices on a three-month rolling average. December represents the three-month average of October, November and December prices.

Average home prices for December remain comparable to their levels in the winter of 2007.

The chairman of the S&P index committee, David M. Blitzer, said:

The rise in home prices should be causing the same nervous wonder aimed at the stock market after its recent bout of volatility. Across the 20 cities covered by S&P Corelogic Case Shiller Home Price Indices, the average increase from the financial crisis low is 62%; over the same period, inflation was 12.4%. None of the cities covered in this release saw real, inflation-adjusted prices fall in 2017. The National Index, which reached its low point in 2012, is up 38% in six years after adjusting for inflation, a real annual gain of 5.3%. The National Index’s average annual real gain from 1976 to 2017 was 1.3%. Even considering the recovery from the financial crisis, we are experiencing a boom in home prices.

Within the last few months, there are beginning to be some signs that gains in housing may be leveling off. Sales of existing homes fell in December and January after seasonal adjustment and are now as low as any month in 2017. Pending sales of existing homes are roughly flat over the last several months. New home sales appear to be following the same trend as existing home sales. While the price increases do not suggest any weakening of demand, mortgage rates rose from 4% to 4.4% since the start of the year. It is too early to tell if the housing recovery is slowing. If it is, some moderation in price gains could be seen later this year.

Compared to their peak in the summer of 2006, home prices on the 10-city and 20-city indexes remain down about 3.5% and 1.0%, respectively. Since the low of March 2012, home prices are up 52.5% and 49.1% on the 10-city and 20-city indexes, respectively. On the national index, home prices are now 6.3% above the July 2006 peak and 46.4% higher than their low-point in February 2012.