Supply shortage continues to fuel home prices

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Home prices rose 6.2% on an annual basis in January, not seasonally adjusted, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, released Tuesday.

In December, the index rose 6.3% on an annualized basis.

The 10-city composite index grew 6.0% year-over-year, the same as in the prior month, while the 20-city index grew 6.4% year-over-year, up from 6.3% in December.

Seasonally adjusted month-over-month, the national index rose 0.5% in January, the 20-city composite grew 0.7%, and the 10-city composite increased 0.8%. Before adjustment the national index was up 0.05% in the month, which the 10- and 20-cit composites each gained 0.3%.

Economists polled by IFR Markets expected a 0.7% rise month-over-month and 6.2% year-over-year.

“Seattle, Las Vegas, and San Francisco reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities. In January, Seattle led the way with a 12.9% year-over-year price increase, followed by Las Vegas with an 11.1% increase and San Francisco with a 10.2% increase,” according to a release.

Twelve cities saw larger price increases for the year ending January than in December.

“The home price surge continues,” David M. Blitzer, managing director & chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a release. “Since the market bottom in December 2012, the S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller National Home Price index has climbed at a 4.7% real – inflation adjusted – annual rate. That is twice the rate of economic growth as measured by the GDP. While price gains vary from city to city, there are few, if any, really weak spots. Seattle, up 12.9% in the last year, continues to see the largest gains, followed by Las Vegas up 11.1% over the same period. Even Chicago and Washington, the cities with the smallest price gains, saw a 2.4% annual increase in home prices.”

Low inventory and higher mortgage rates could be factors ahead, according to Ruben Gonzalez, chief economist with Keller Williams. “We expect home price growth to potentially continue to accelerate this year when looking at year-over-year comparisons due to low inventory levels.”

But, he noted, “If mortgage rates continue to rise, they could slow growth later in the year; however, right now we see inventory constraints as the predominant factor influencing prices.”

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Economic indicators Housing Home prices