Seattle-area Home Prices Outgaining Most of U.S.
Seattle-area home prices jumped 1.9 percent in March compared to February, according to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index. That surge is the most robust price growth since nearly a year ago when buyers scrambled to make offers in anticipation of rising interest rates.
Nationally, home prices in March gained 0.9 percent over the month and 12.4 percent over the year. Nineteen of the 20 cities in its survey showed positive returns in March, with New York being the only city to decline.
Over the past 12 months, prices have climbed11.6 percent. For 13 consecutive months, prices have increased annually by double-digit percentages. Despite the increases, the market is still about 16 percent below its July 2007 peak.
Annual price gains have slowed in the last four months and 13 cities saw their appreciation moderate in March, said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indexes. Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco and Tampa saw substantial slowdowns in their appreciation, he said. "The year-over-year changes suggest prices are rising more slowly," he noted.
"Housing indicators remain mixed," Blitzer said in a statement. Virtually all of the gain in housing starts in April was in apartment construction, not single-family homes, and new-home sales haven't picked up enough. "Mortgage rates are near a seven-month low, but recent comments from the Fed point to bank-lending standards as a problem," he noted. "Other comments include arguments that student-loan debt is preventing many potential first-time buyers from entering the housing market."
The Case-Shiller Index was developed in the 1980s by three economists and is based on comparisons of repeat sales of the same homes in an effort to study home pricing trends. It tracks changes in the value of residential real estate, both nationally and in 20 metropolitan regions.