US house prices rise 1.3% in April, with San Francisco and Washington the strongest performers: Case-Schiller index

US house prices across the 20 biggest metropolitan markets rose 1.3% over April according to the benchmark S&P/Case-Schiller index, with signs emerging that the housing market may be stabilising.

The gain followed seven consecutive months of falling home prices.

The graph below shows the April turnaround as well as the massive drop in house prices that began in late 2007 following the start of the sub-prime mortgage crisis culminating in the US housing bubble bursting and prices falling 20%.

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During April San Francisco was the strongest market,  registering a 3.4% gain, with Washington DC next best, up 2.8%. 

Out of the 20 cities measured by Case-Schiller, only Detroit recorded a house price decline, down 3.6% in April.

New York prices were flat, Chicago house prices rose 1.1%, and Los Angeles house prices gained 1.5%.

Over the past 12 months Phoenix was the standout market, with gains of 8.6%, while Atlanta is far and away the worst with a 17% plunge over the past year to April.

Click to enlarge

“Clearly the big headline is that we went up,” David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the S&P Index Committee, told CBNC.

“Nineteen out of the 20 cities saw gains. Across the board it looks like a very strong report,” Blitzer says.

He says some of the gains may be due to the spring selling season hitting its stride “but certainly not all of it”.

“My guess is at least half of what we're seeing are real gains, not just seasonal shifts.”

Blitzer says price gains were expected in April following increased sales and housing starts over the past few months, “amidst a lot of talk of better housing markets”.

Christopher Low, chief economist at FTN Financial, which “slices and dices” the housing market, says people have been talking about housing recovery for a while but keep being disappointed.

He says data is now stacking up better than it has in a long time, with new home sales “perking up off their lows”.

“What we see in the Case-Schiller Index is that house prices are starting to stabilise, and we keep seeing a handful of cities starting to pick up,” he told Bloomberg TV.

Low says home sales are rising and prices are stabilising.

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer


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