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S&P/Case-Shiller Reports Home Prices Rose Again in June

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Home prices rose across the U.S. over the 12 months to June, according to data released Tuesday.

The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which cover all nine U.S. Census divisions, recorded a year-over-year 4.5% annual increase in June, compared with a 4.4% increase in May.

The 10-City Composite increased by 4.6% year-over-year, while the 20-City Composite rose by 5% year-over-year.

Eleven cities reported bigger price rises in the year ending in June than in May, led by Denver’s 10.2%, San Francisco’s 9.5% and Dallas’ 8.2%.

Year-over-year growth at the opposite end of the spectrum was much slower, with Chicago up by 1.4%, Washington by 1.6% and New York and Cleveland by 2.8%.

Phoenix and Detroit continued their monthly year-over-year streaks, with the former up 4.1% in June, its seventh consecutive rise, and the latter up 5.7%, its sixth increase in a row.

S&P/Case-Shiller’s National and 20-City composites both rose by 1% month-over-month in June, and the 10-City Composite gained 0.9%.

Before seasonal adjustment, all 20 cities reported increases in June. With seasonal adjustment, nine were up, nine down and two were unchanged.

“Nationally, home prices continue to rise at a 4%–5% annual rate, two to three times the rate of inflation,” David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a statement.

“While prices in San Francisco and Denver are rising far faster than those in Washington, D.C., New York or Cleveland, the city-to-city price patterns are little changed in the last year,” as the unemployment rate has declined and inflation has remained steady and Federal Reserve policy unchanged.

Blitzer said “the missing piece in the housing picture” had been housing starts and sales, but these had improved in recent months.

He said existing home sales had climbed to 5.6 million at annual rates in July, the strongest figure since 2007. Housing starts exceeded 1.2 million units at annual rates, with about two-thirds of these in single-family homes.

New home sales were also trending higher, pointing to a stronger housing sector to support the economy.

Blitzer spied two possible clouds on the horizon: a possible Fed rate increase and stock market volatility.

“A one-quarter-point increase in the Fed funds rate won’t derail housing,” he said. “However, if the Fed were to quickly follow that initial move with one or two more rate increases, housing and home prices might suffer.”

Blitzer said a stock market correction was unlikely to seriously damage the housing market, though “a full-blown bear market dropping more than 20% would present some difficulties for housing and for other economic sectors.”

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