Housing prices in U.S. cities rise by most since early 2006

Monthly Gain

Home prices adjusted for seasonal variations rose 0.9% in August from the prior month after a 0.6% increase. That compares with the Bloomberg survey median of a 0.7% increase.

The month-over-month price gains were led by Las Vegas, followed by Los Angeles and San Diego. Property values rose in all 20 metropolitan areas.

“The monthly percentage changes for the 20-city composite show the peak rate of gain in home prices was last April,” David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P index committee, said in a statement. “Since then home prices continued to rise, but at a slower pace each month. Recent increases in mortgage rates and fewer mortgage applications are two factors in these shifts.”

Unadjusted prices climbed 1.3% in August from the previous month.

The year-over-year gauge, which uses records dating back to 2001, provides a better indication of price trends, according to Karl Case and Robert Shiller, creators of the index. Earlier this month, Shiller was one of three economists awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for research on how financial markets work and assets such as stocks are priced.

All Increase

All 20 cities in the index showed a year-over-year gain, led by a 29.2% increase in Las Vegas. Values advanced 25.4% in San Francisco and 21.7% in Los Angeles.

Higher borrowing costs are already starting to bite. Fewer Americans signed contracts to purchase existing homes in September, the National Association of Realtors reported yesterday. The group’s index fell 5.6%, the most in more than three years and the fourth straight decline.

Existing-home sales, measured when a deal closes, also fell in September for the first time in three months, the Realtors’ group reported last week. Purchases dropped 1.9% to a 5.29 million annual rate.

Mortgage Rates

The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.58% in the week ended Aug. 22, the highest level since July 2011. It’s since fallen, averaging 4.13% for the week ended Oct. 24, according to Freddie Mac in McLean, Virginia.

Homebuilders and their suppliers are getting a lift from the housing recovery. Weyerhaeuser Co., a timber supplier and developer based in Federal Way, Washington, expects to close more than 1,100 homes in the last three months of this year, up about 35% from a year ago, President and Chief Executive Officer Doyle Simons said.

“We continue to be encouraged as long-term favorable housing fundamentals remain in place,” Simons said on an Oct. 25 earnings call. “With that said, the housing recovery appears to have taken a slight pause due to higher home prices, higher interest rates, although still very low by historical standards, slowing job growth and the antics of our government.”

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