Home prices rise, but where?

Case-Shiller: "Housing indicators remain mixed"

The 10-city and 20-city composites recorded miniscule rises for March 2014, increasing .8% and .9% month-over-month, the latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices report said.

“Housing indicators remain mixed. April housing starts recovered the drop in March but virtually all the gain was in apartment construction, not single family homes,” said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

This is compared to the 10-city and 20-city composites posting returns of 13.1% and 12.9%, respectively, in the twelve months ending February 2014. 

“The year-over-year changes suggest that prices are rising more slowly,” Blitzer added. “Annual price increases for the two composites have slowed in the last four months and 13 cities saw annual price changes moderate in March.”

But this is not bad news for the housing market according to  Quicken Loans Vice President Bill Banfield.

“While the increase in home prices is slowing, homeowners have still gained a significant amount of equity in the last year. A moderation in price increases is a reflection of a healthy housing market, especially if it continues as inventory increases,” Banfield said. 

Nineteen of the 20 cities posted positive returns in March, with New York being the only city to report a decline.  

Meanwhile, Dallas and Denver reached new index peaks, as Chicago posted its highest year-over-year return since December 1988, at 11.5%.

Las Vegas and San Francisco, the cities with the highest returns, saw their rates of gain slow to approximately 21%.

This is compared to their post-crisis peak returns of 29.2% and 25.7%, respectively.  

Blitzer also noted, “New home sales rebounded from recent weakness but remain soft. Mortgage rates are near a seven-month low but recent comments from the Fed point to bank lending standards as a problem. Other comments include arguments that student loan debt is preventing many potential first time buyers from entering the housing market.”

This follows the Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price Index released Tuesday that said home prices continued to trend higher and increased for the eleventh consecutive quarter, rising 1.3% in the first quarter of 2014.

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