Phoenix Among Largest Gainers in August Home Prices

Home prices hit nearly 2-year peak: Case-Shiller

By Ruth Mantell, MarketWatch
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — U.S. home prices in August reached the highest level since September 2010, though growth slowed from the prior month, according to an index released Tuesday.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite index for home prices posted a non-seasonally-adjusted 0.9% increase in August, following a 1.6% gain in July. There was monthly growth in all cities but Seattle, where prices ticked lower.

“Home prices continued climbing across the country in August,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The sustained good news in home prices over the past five months makes us optimistic for continued recovery in the housing market.”

Prices are up 2% from the prior year. But despite recent gains, prices remain about one-third below the market’s peak in 2006.

Tuesday’s report adds to recent data, such as existing-homes sales and new-home construction, that show signs of a housing-market recovery.

As the economy continues to add jobs, consumer confidence has been gaining. Confidence among home builders also has been increasing, and an exchange-traded fund of home-builder stocks has almost doubled over the past 12 months. However, while persistently low mortgage rates are enticing some buyers, consumers still face tight lending standards.

According to the Case-Shiller report, Detroit saw the largest monthly price increase in August, with a gain of 2.3%, followed by Atlanta and Phoenix, where prices rose 1.8%. Among the weakest cities in August, Seattle saw a decline of 0.1%, while there was a 0.1% gain in Dallas and a 0.4% increase in Tampa.

House in Phoenix, Arizona.

Compared with last year, prices are up in 17 cities, with the largest gain in Phoenix, where prices are up almost 19%. There were annual declines of 6.1% in Atlanta, 2.3% in New York and 1.6% in Chicago.

After seasonal adjustment, prices rose 0.5% in August, according to the Case-Shiller report.

Tuesday’s Case-Shiller report echoes other recent data on the housing market that show rising prices. Last week, the Federal Housing Finance Agency reported that home prices rose a seasonally adjusted 0.7% in August from July, and were up 4.7% from the prior year. Despite the gain, FHFA reported that prices remain almost 16% below a peak in April 2007.


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