U.S. house prices rose 7.1% in year through February

U.S. house prices rose 7.1% in the year through February, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said, indicating a solidifying recovery as buyers compete for properties amid tight inventory.

Prices climbed 0.7% on a seasonally adjusted basis from January, the FHFA said in a report today from Washington. That matched the average estimate of 16 economists, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Home prices have been increasing as improving employment and borrowing costs near record lows fuel demand for a limited supply of properties for sale. Prices haven’t declined on a monthly basis since January 2012, according to the FHFA’s data.

“The market was fairly strong in January and February and it continues to expand fairly robustly,” Peter Morici, a professor of business at the University of Maryland who estimated a 0.7% monthly increase, said in a telephone interview before the report was released.

Sales of previously owned homes slipped 0.6% in March from February, the National Association of Realtors reported yesterday. The number of houses on the market fell 17% from a year earlier to 1.93 million. The median selling price jumped to $184,300, up 12% from March 2012 and the biggest year-over-year gain since November 2005, the real estate group said.

The FHFA index is 13.6% below its April 2007 peak. The report is based on changes in real estate values using purchases of properties with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. It doesn’t provide a specific price for homes.

Bloomberg News

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