Housing Prices Continue Rise, But the Pace of Improvement Lagging

March’s S&P (Standard & Poor’s)/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices showed both good news and bad news. On one hand, 19 of the nation’s largest 20 markets showed increases. On the other, the pace of the housing rebound is not advancing at recently reported levels or predicted ones.

S&P Dow Jones noted that it’s 10-City and 20-City Composite indices increased by 0.8% and 0.9%, respectively, in March. Though new record index levels were found in the Dallas and Denver markets and Chicago showed its best annual growth since the late 1980’s, an easing of the growth rate demonstrated in “boom-bust” markets like Las Vegas and San Francisco was the big story coming out of Monday’s data release.

David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, acknowledged that prices are rising more slowly and blamed factors such as the high student loan debt levels of would-be first-time homebuyers and tough bank lending standards for some of the drag on housing activity.

The top February-to-March gainer in the latest report was San Francisco at 2.4%, with Seattle the only market within striking distance. The Bay Area market was also one of the top two in one-year growth at 20.9%, behind only Las Vegas’ 21.2%. The trouble is that the top two markets each had been tracking between 25% and 30% gains during their post-downturn peaks, according to S&P/Case-Shiller statistics. New York was the only market to post a monthly loss (-3.3%) in March. The worst annual percentage change was found in Cleveland (3.9%) and Charlotte (4.9%).

- Brian Shappell, CBA, CICP, NACM staff writer

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