U.S. home price gains slow in Nov.
Washington — U.S. home prices rose at a modest pace in November, held back by weaker sales and a limited number of available houses.
The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index, released Tuesday, increased 4.3 percent in November from 12 months earlier. That’s down slightly from a 4.5 percent pace in October.
Sharp price increases early last year and tight credit held back home sales in 2014. Sales of existing homes fell 3.1 percent to 4.93 million. Yet housing may rebound this year thanks to smaller price gains, lower mortgage rates, and healthy hiring.
Home prices in all 20 cities increased over the past 12 months. San Francisco’s increase of 8.9 percent was the largest, followed by Miami at 8.6 percent. Cleveland posted the smallest gain, at 0.6 percent.
The 20-city index fell 0.2 percent in November from October. The index’s monthly price changes aren’t adjusted for seasonal variations, such as slower home buying in winter. Eleven cities reported price gains in November from the previous month, led by Tampa’s 0.8 percent gain. Chicago’s price drop of 1.1 percent was the largest.
Other recent data on housing suggests that sales and construction will rise this year. While sales of existing homes fell in 2014, they picked up in December, increasing 2.4 percent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 5.04 million. Many economists forecast sales will rise to about 5.2 million this year.
Mortgage rates have fallen for four straight weeks and the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage is just 3.63 percent. That makes it easier for would-be buyers to purchase a home. It has also prompted a spike of refinancing applications that could enable many Americans to lower their monthly mortgage payments, freeing up cash to spend or save.
Home construction, meanwhile, jumped 4.4 percent last month to an annual rate of 1.09 million. Builders began construction on 1.01 million new houses and apartments in 2014, the most in nine years and 8.8 percent more than in 2013.
The Case-Shiller index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. The index measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The November figures are the latest available.
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