Home Prices in 20 U.S. Cities Post Smallest Gain in Six Years

(Bloomberg) -- Home prices in 20 U.S. cities registered their smallest gains since late 2012, decelerating for a 10th month in January as buyers held out for more affordable properties.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index of property values increased 3.6 percent from a year earlier, down from 4.1 percent in the prior month and below the median estimate of economists, data showed Tuesday. Nationally, home-price gains slowed to 4.3 percent, the lowest since 2015.

Key Insights

  • The data indicate that the 2018 slump in housing extended to the start of this year amid the longest-ever government shutdown and still-elevated home prices. Potential buyers may have remained cautious after stocks had their worst December since the Great Depression, and a separate report this month showed sales of new U.S. homes fell to a three-month low in January.
  • At the same time, other data suggest the market has since picked up: A report last week showed sales of previously owned U.S. homes rebounded in February to the fastest pace in almost a year.
  • The seasonally adjusted 20-city index gained 0.1 percent from the prior month, less than projected. Economists watch the year-on-year gauge to better track trends, and home-price gains have slowed enough that they’re roughly in line with wage increases.
  • A separate report Tuesday showed that U.S. new-home groundbreakings fell in February by the most in eight months on a drop in single-family homes, suggesting buyers and builders remain wary despite higher wages and a drop in mortgage rates.

Official’s View

  • “It remains to be seen if recent low mortgage rates and smaller price gains can sustain improved home sales,” David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P index committee, said in a statement.

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  • All 20 cities in the index still showed year-over-year gains, led by a 10.5 percent increase in Las Vegas and 7.5 percent in Phoenix.
  • The weakest gains were in San Diego, with 1.3 percent, and San Francisco at 1.8 percent -- down from 10.2 percent a year earlier. Seattle, another formerly hot market, showed a 4.1 percent annual increase, sharply decelerating from 12.8 percent last year.
  • Prices in 14 cities rose from the prior month on a seasonally adjusted basis, while five declined and one was unchanged. The biggest drop came in San Francisco, at 0.6 percent.

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