Home prices in 20 U.S. cities rose more than forecast in September from a year earlier, indicating property values are stabilizing as housing demand picks up. It marked the first acceleration in annual prices since 2018.
The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index of property values increased 2.1% from September 2018, higher than the median estimate of 2% in a Bloomberg survey of economists, data showed Tuesday. Prices rose 0.4% from the previous month. A separate report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency showed home prices advanced 0.6% in September from a month earlier, the most since January.
Home prices rose in September as lower mortgage rates and a solid labor market generated buyer interest in a market where supply remains lean. At the same time, price growth has slowed since early 2018, when year-over-year increases exceeded 6% and made homes less affordable.
All 20 cities in the index, with the exception of San Francisco, showed annual gains, led by a 6% surge in Phoenix.
Other data point to a healthier housing market. Sales of existing properties that make up the vast majority of transactions increased in October for the third time in four months. A report later this morning is projected to show a modest increase in new-home sales.
Economists estimated a 0.3% gain in home prices from the prior month.
Prices rose from the prior month in 17 cities, led by a 0.8% increase in Seattle and a 0.7% gain in Los Angeles. Home prices fell in San Francisco, Chicago and Boston.
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The FHFA’s data, derived from conforming mortgages, also showed that prices in the third quarter increased 1.11% from the previous three months, the smallest advance since the second quarter of 2014. Compared with the third quarter of last year, prices rose 4.9%, the smallest gain since the first quarter of 2015.
“For many buyers, the fall housing market provides several challenges and opportunities,” said George Ratiu, senior economist at realtor. “While lower financing costs and a rising number of new homes are welcome signs in a market parched for inventory, prices are still climbing and the number of existing houses in the affordable price range is down by double-digits.”
Prices have so steadily outpaced wage growth for several years that the market is now constrained by buyers’ capacity to pay. Home values have tumbled 0.7% in San Francisco and increased just 0.8% in New York and 1.7% in Seattle.
Ralph McLaughlin, deputy chief economist at CoreLogic, noted that prices in San Francisco were climbing 9.9% annually just a year ago, evidence of how swift the deceleration has been.
Still, there are signs that low mortgage rates are boosting demand and prices could increase at faster pace in the months ahead as there is a shortage of listings.
Of the major metro areas, Phoenix led with annual price gains of 6%, followed by Charlotte at 4.6% and Tampa at 4.5%.
This report uses material from the AP, Bloomberg and Reuters.