Home Prices Still Rising but Growth Slowing

Housing data tracker CoreLogic reported Tuesday that home prices rose in April from a year earlier, but the year-over-year gain was the smallest in over a year as the housing recovery hit a snag due to extreme winter weather in the Northeast. The later-than-usual winter storms impacted sales at the beginning of the all-important spring selling season, temporarily slowing the momentum in the ongoing recovery. According to the report, prices surged 10.5 percent between April 2013 and April 2014. That followed year-over-year increases of 12.2 percent in February and 11.1 percent in March. April’s median sales price was up about 2.1 percent from the prior month.

A variety of factors are still holding back the housing recovery, including rising interest rates, tight credit requirements and a shrinking inventory of homes on the market. These conditions have held back home sales in recent months, with sales falling to a 20-month low in March before picking back up slightly in April. Even with that gain, however, sales are still nearly 7 percent below where they were last year, when federal stimulus programs were still holding interest rates near historical lows. On a national basis, home prices are still down some 14.3 percent from peak levels seen in April 2006 before the crash. 23 of the 50 states have seen prices recover to within 10 percent of pre-crash levels, including California, where several markets are currently seeing their highest prices ever.

In the 12 months through April, home values moved higher in all 50 states, led by a 15.6 percent uptcik in California and a 14.8 percent surge in Nevada. Of the 100 biggest metro areas across the nation, prices rose in 95 of them. The only markets where prices didn’t move higher during that time are Hartford, Connecticut; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Little Rock, Arkansas; Worcester, Massachusetts; and New Haven, Connecticut.