Case-Shiller: Housing Recovery Losing Momentum

Home prices nationwide edged up slightly in December 2014, with nine cities reporting monthly increases in prices, according to the latest data from S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

Both the 10-City and 20-City Composites saw year-over-year increases in December compared to November. The 10-City Composite gained 4.3% year-over-year, up from 4.2% in November. The 20-City Composite gained 4.5% year-over-year, compared to a 4.3% increase in November. 

TheS&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, recorded a 4.6% annual gain in December 2014 versus 4.7% in November.

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“Movements in home prices show clear regional patterns,” says David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, in a statement. “The western half of the nation plus Miami and Atlanta enjoyed year-over-year increases of 5% or more. The Midwest and Northeast lagged. Boston was the strongest among this weak group with prices up 3.8%.”

San Francisco and Miami boasted the fastest year-over-year gains, where prices rose 9.3% and 8.4% over the last 12 months. Twelve cities, including Cleveland, Denver, and Seattle, saw prices rise faster in the year to December than a month earlier. Las Vegas led the declining annual returns with 6.9%, down from 7.7% annually.

The National index was slightly negative in December, while both composite Indices were positive. Both the 10- and 20-City Composites reported slight increases of 0.1%, while the National Index posted a -0.1% change for the month.

Miami and Denver led all cities in December with increases of 0.7% and 0.5% respectively. Chicago and Cleveland offset those gains by reporting decreases of-0.9% and -0.5% respectively.

But while prices and sales of existing homes are close to normal, construction and new home sales remain weak, Blitzer says.

“The housing recovery is faltering,” he says. “Before the current business cycle, any time housing starts were at their current level of about one million at annual rates, the economy was in a recession. The softness in housing is despite favorable conditions elsewhere in the economy: strong job growth, a declining unemployment rate, continued low interest rates and positive consumer confidence.”

Written by Cassandra Dowell

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