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Home prices in the U.S. started 2018 on the rise, outpacing the rate of economic growth.
Standard & Poor’s said Tuesday that its S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index reported a 6.2% annual gain in January, down slightly from 6.3% in December. The 20-city composite rose 6.4% from a year ago, and after seasonal adjustment it posted a 0.8% month-over-month increase, beating analysts estimates of 0.6%. Low inventory of homes for sale continued to drive prices.
“Since the market bottom in December 2012, the S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller National Home Price index has climbed at a 4.7% real – inflation adjusted – annual rate,” said David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones in a press statement. “That is twice the rate of economic growth as measured by the GDP. While price gains vary from city to city, there are few, if any, really weak spots.”
Seattle, yet again, led the 20-city index, up 12.9% in January from a year ago. Las Vegas and San Francisco followed, up 11.1% and 10.2%, respectively.
Blitzer noted that it will take 3.4 months to absorb homes for sale, far below the average since 2000 of six months and the high in July 2010 of 11.9 months. He also contributed price increases to low vacancy rates among owner-occupied housing.
“Currently, the homeowner vacancy rate is 1.6% compared to an average of 2.1% since 2000; it peaked in 2010 at 2.7%,” he said.
By Amanda Fung
Act now! Mortgage rates rise to nearly four-year high on inflation concerns
Freddie Mac says benchmark rate is highest since April 2014
Mortgage rates have climbed to the highest level in close to four years, according to data released Thursday.
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.38% in the week ending Feb. 15, up from 4.32%, mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said.
A year ago, the benchmark mortgage averaged 4.15%.
The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.84%, up from 3.77%, and the 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.63%, up from 3.57%.
The backup in rates has occurred on concerns about rising inflation pressure, with the latest increase coming after a stronger-than-forecast gain in consumer prices.
“Inflation measures were broad-based, cementing expectations that the Federal Reserve will go forward with monetary tightening later this year,” said Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist.
Fellow mortgage buyer Fannie Mae said it’s upped its 30-year fixed rate mortgage forecast for the fourth quarter by 30 points to 4.4%.
“However, we don’t expect rates to play much of a role in total home sales, especially with anticipated stronger disposable household income growth. The ongoing inventory shortages should continue to constrain sales despite otherwise ripe home buying conditions,” said Doug Duncan, Fannie’s chief economist, in a statement.