Home prices rise at a slower pace: S&P Case-Shiller



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February 4, 2019

Home values increased 5.2 percent annually in November, slowing from 5.3 percent in October, according to the widely watched S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index.

The 10-city composite annual increase also fell to 4.3 percent, down from 4.7 percent in the previous month. The 20-city composite saw a 4.7 percent annual gain, down from 5.0 percent in October.

Home price gains have been slowing since last spring, as higher mortgage interest rates cut sharply into affordability. The gains are slowing the most in large metropolitan markets, where home prices had overheated over the past three years.

Las Vegas, Phoenix and Seattle continue to see the highest year-over-year gains in the index’s 20-city composite. Las Vegas home prices were 12 percent higher compared with November 2017. Phoenix saw an 8.1 percent annual increase, and Seattle’s gains came in at 6.3 percent. Seattle had been seeing double-digit price increases in 2017. Just seven of the 20 cities reported higher price increases in the year ended in November 2018 versus the year ended in October 2018.

“The pace of price increases are being dampened by declining sales of existing homes and weaker affordability,” said David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices in a release.

Sales peaked in November 2017 and then began falling as mortgage rates rose. After rising steadily, rates began to drop again in November 2018, following a change in policy at the Federal Reserve. But the rate on the popular 30-year fixed mortgage is still higher today than it was one year ago.

“Housing market conditions are mixed while analysts’ comments express concerns that housing is weakening and could affect the broader economy. Current low inventories of homes for sale – about a four-month supply – are supporting home prices. New home construction trends, like sales of existing homes, peaked in late 2017 and are flat to down since then,” added Blitzer.

Rising wages and continued growth in employment are all favorable, he added, and with prices moderating and rates currently not rising, the spring market could see a slight boost.

“Slower price growth will help would-be buyers feel like their goal isn’t moving away faster than they can catch up. Against incomes rising at a roughly 3 percent pace, 4 percent home price growth is nearly at just the right pace,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com.

Looking Ahead: Upcoming Key Market Dates

Tuesday, February 5, 2019 State of the Union address
Thursday, February 7, 2019 Consumer credit

NAR: Pending home sales unscathed from partial government shutdown

Pending home sales fell on an annual basis for the 12th consecutive month in December, according to the latest report from the National Association of Realtors.

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, fell 2.2% in December to 99, down from 102.1 in November. Notably, year over year, contract signings dropped 9.8%.

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun attributed the decline to a plethora of factors.

“The stock market correction hurt consumer confidence, record high home prices cut into affordability and mortgage rates were higher in October and November for consumers signing contracts in December,” Yun said.

In fact, In December, all four major regions experienced a retreat compared with one year ago, with the South declining the furthest.

According to Yun, the partial government shutdown has not caused any obvious damage to home sales.

“Seventy-five percent of Realtors reported that they haven’t yet felt the impact of the government closure,” Yun said. “However, if another government shutdown takes place, it will lead to fewer homes sold.”

Yun suggests that as the government reopens, more mortgage options will come available for consumers.

“Some home transactions were delayed, but we now expect those sales to go forward,” Yun continued.

Notably, Yun cited year-over-year increases in active listings in certain pockets.

Cities that experienced the largest increase in listings in December 2018 included Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colorado; Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California; San Diego-Carlsbad, California; and Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Oregon-Washington, according to Realtor.com. Furthermore, Yun said that despite low home sales in December, he is confident that the housing market will see improvement in 2019.

“The longer-term growth potential is high. The Federal Reserve announced a change in its stance on monetary policy. Rather than four rate hikes, there will likely be only one increase or even no increase at all,” Yun said. “This has already spurred a noticeable fall in the 30-year, fixed-rate for mortgages. As a result, the forecast for home transactions has greatly improved.”