Inflation Nation: Home Prices Rise at Fastest Pace Ever

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Home prices in April jumped 14.6 percent compared with a year ago, up from a 13.3 percent rise in March, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index showed Tuesday.

This is the fastest annual pace on record, beating the housing bubble high of 14.3 percent in 2005. On a monthly and seasonally adjusted basis, home prices nationally rose 1.6 percent, also an all-time high.

“April’s performance was truly extraordinary,” said Craig J. Lazzara, Managing Director and Global Head of Index Investment Strategy at S&P DJI. “The 14.6 percent gain in the National Composite is literally the highest reading in more than 30 years of S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller data.”

In addition to the national index, Tuesday’s release included both the index of the ten and 20 largest cities. The 10-city composite was up 14.4 percent year over year, an acceleration from March’s 12.9 percent annual gain. That’s the biggest annual jump on record since January 2006.

Compared with a month ago, prices in the 10-city index were up 1.4 percent. That’s actually a deceleration from March’s 1.5 percent monthly gain.

The 20-city composite jumped 14.9 percent higher,  compared with 13.4 percent in March. This is the fastest pace of annual price gains since December 2005.

Compared with a month ago, prices were up 1.6 percent, the biggest monthly gain since a short-lived spike in April 2013.

Economists had forecast a 1.2 percent gain for the 20-city index on a monthly basis and a 13.5 percent gain annually.

Phoenix, San Diego, and Seattle reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities in April. Phoenix led the way with a 22.3 percent year-over-year price increase, followed by San Diego with a 21.6 percent increase and Seattle with a 20.2 percent increase. All 20 cities reported higher price increases in the year ending April 2021 versus the year ending March 2021.

“Housing prices in all 20 cities rose; price gains in all 20 cities accelerated; price gains in all 20 cities were in the top quartile of historical performance. In 15 cities, price gains were in top decile. Five cities – Charlotte, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, and Seattle – joined the National Composite in recording their all-time highest 12- month gains,” Lazzara said.

It’s still unclear how much of the surge in home prices is due to the pandemic and how much is due to rising crime, anti-police politics, and racial strife in big cities. In addition, the U.S. may be undergoing a change in housing preference away from cities and toward single-family homes in the suburbs.

“We have previously suggested that the strength in the U.S. housing market is being driven in part by reaction to the COVID pandemic, as potential buyers move from urban apartments to suburban homes. April’s data continue to be consistent with this hypothesis. This demand surge may simply represent an acceleration of purchases that would have occurred anyway over the next several years. Alternatively, there may have been a secular change in locational preferences, leading to a permanent shift in the demand curve for housing. More time and data will be required to analyze this question,” Lazzara said.





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