The S & P/Case Shiller Home Price Indices was recently released for April this year and shows that home prices continued to increase across the country over the last year. Year on year, price gains were slightly lower compared to the previous months with the composite index and gaining 4.6% while the 20 city composite gained 4.9%.
The highest year on year gains were seen in San Francisco and in Denver with increases of 10% and 10.3% respectively during the last year. In Dallas, prices increased by 8.8%. In addition, nine cities reported that prices were increasing more quickly in the year ending April 2015 compared to the year ending March 2015. In Las Vegas prices rose by 6.3% for the year ending in April compared to 5.7% for the year ending in March 2015. The annual rate of price gains slowed down however in 11 cities, with prices in Boston up by just 1.8% to the 12 months ending in April compared to 4.6% in the 12 months ending in March.
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Month on month, the National index increased by 1.1% in April but after seasonal adjustments the index remained unchanged. Even though house prices are continuing to rise throughout the country, the pace at which they are doing so is not picking up. In addition, consumer expectations are in line with the current rate of price increases as a recent national survey shows the average expected price increase amongst renters and owners is 4.1%. The current rate of consumer expectations and home price increases are slightly lower than long-term averages of 4.9% but these figures are not adjusted for inflation. If inflation is taken into account then real home prices today are rising more quickly than be expected. Three out of five of those consumers in the survey reviewed home ownership as being a good or somewhat good investment.
Recent data for house sales is also positive with sales of existing and new homes both rising while construction of new homes saw strong gains in May. However the proportion of apartments being constructed in comparison to single-family homes is still high. During the past year 34% of new housing starts were for apartments compared to an average of 22% which is been the case since 1975. This may be partly due to condominiums. Prices of condominiums are rising more quickly in San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and New York compared to single-family homes. The only city not to see this trend is Los Angeles.