Home Price Gains Slowing Down Despite Improving Economy

The latest report indicates that home prices around the United States rose 3.7 percent annually, in March. This is down from 3.9 percent, the month before, according to the Standard & Poors CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index. It might not seem like much but prices had been posting double-digit annual gains and now those days are all but over. Seattle, for example, saw a 13 percent gain about a year ago, but that has lost all momentum and dropped to 1.6 percent.  The largest annual gain, on the other hand, was 8.2 percent, in Las Vegas.  

Overall, the 20-city Composite fell from 6.7 percent to 2.7 percent annual gains over the course of the last year. 

Essentially, analysts say that housing should be performing better amid the broader economic picture.  Sure enough, mortgage rates and unemployment are both down but low inflation and a moderate increase in real incomes should be contributing to better housing numbers, too.  

Looking at it another way, the 10-city Composite rose 2.3 percent, annually, which is also down from the last month (which was 2.5 percent).  This also appears to reflect the 20-city Composite, which was down from 3 percent, last month, to 2.7 percent, this month. 

So, on paper, everything looks good; but analysts say that even with these small gains prices continue to rise nearly twice as fast as inflation.  Specifically, the Standard & Poors CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Index is up 3.7 percent; that is almost double the current inflation rate of 1.9 percent. 

As a matter of fact, annual prices remain higher in every single one of the 20 major cities that are measured by the indexes.  Some, however, are approaching negative territory. Major metropolitan areas like Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Diego showed only a 1 percent uptick since March of 2018.  The cities with the biggest gains are Tampa, Florida, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.  Oddly enough—or is it?—these were the very markets hit the hardest during the recent housing crash; which means they have the most room for recovery. 

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