NEW YORK -- Data through March 2014, released recently by S&P Dow Jones Indices for its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices, show the 10-City and 20-City Composite Indices gained 0.8% and 0.9% month-over-month. In the first quarter of 2014, the National Index gained 0.2%. Nineteen of the 20 cities showed positive returns in March - New York was the only city to decline. Dallas and Denver reached new index peaks.
In March, the National and Composite Indices saw their annual rates of gain slow significantly. Chicago showed its highest year-over-year return of 11.5% since December 1988. Las Vegas and San Francisco, the cities with the highest returns, saw their rates of gain slow to approximately 21%; their post-crisis peak returns were 29.2% and 25.7%. At the lower end was Cleveland with a gain of 3.9% in the 12 months ending March 2014.
"The year-over-year changes suggest that prices are rising more slowly," says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. "Annual price increases for the two Composites have slowed in the last four months and 13 cities saw annual price changes moderate in March. The National Index also showed decelerating gains in the last quarter. Among those markets seeing substantial slowdowns in price gains were some of the leading boom-bust markets including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco and Tampa.
"Despite signs of decelerating prices, all cities were higher than a year ago and all but New York were higher in March than in February. However, only Denver and Dallas have set new post-crisis highs and they experienced relatively lower peak levels than other cities. Four locations are fairly close to their previous highs: Boston (8%), Charlotte (9%), Portland (13%) and San Francisco (15%).
"Housing indicators remain mixed. April housing starts recovered the drop in March but virtually all the gain was in apartment construction, not single family homes. New home sales also rebounded from recent weakness but remain soft. Mortgage rates are near a seven month low but recent comments from the Fed point to bank lending standards as a problem. Other comments include arguments that student loan debt is preventing many potential first time buyers from entering the housing market."
New York was the only city to decline in the month of March. San Francisco posted the biggest gain of 2.4% with Seattle following at +1.9%. All 20 cities improved in March as compared to their February returns. Cleveland improved the most; it went from a decline of 1.6% in February to a gain of 1.5% in March. Cleveland and San Francisco posted their biggest returns since last June.
All 20 cities continued to record positive year-over-year returns. Thirteen of the 20 MSAs showed lower annual increases in March. Tampa showed the most deceleration - the city posted +13.4% year- over-year in February and +10.7% in March. Las Vegas and San Francisco, the only two cities to post annual gains of over 20%, also saw their rates decelerate; they gained 21.2% and 20.9%, respectively. The only six cities to show higher year-over-year returns in March were Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis and New York.
Effective with this month's release, two series of technical adjustments to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices were implemented. Weights used to calculate the 10-City and 20-City Composite Indices were updated to reflect the latest available data from the American Community Survey sample published by the U.S. Census Bureau. Also, the data sources underlying the indices have been aligned with data sources used by CoreLogic, Inc., the index calculator. To prevent any break in the index series, divisors will be used in the index calculation.
More than 27 years of history for these data series are available, and can be accessed in full by going to homeprice.spdji.com. Additional content on the housing market may also be found on S&P Dow Jones Indices' housing blog: www.housingviews.com.