The fourth quarter was good to home prices, according to data released today in home prices indices from both S&P/Case-Shiller and FHFA.
In metros measured by the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite index, prices improved 2.2% from the third quarter to the fourth, marking an accelerated rate of increase compared with the 1.2% gain the third quarter saw over the second.
The 10-city composite was up 2.0% in the fourth quarter.
Quarterly prices improved in 18 of the metros tracked, with the largest gains logged by Las Vegas (up 5.6%) and San Francisco (up 5.5%). The outliers were New York and Chicago. Annually, prices were up in 19 of the 20 metros, with New York registering as the only sore spot with a 0.5% decline.
Both the 10- and 20-city composites were up on a year-over-year basis, registering improvements of 5.9% and 6.8% respectively.
Nationally, the FHFA’s seasonally adjusted purchase-only house price index—calculated from sales prices from mortgages held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—was up 1.4% in the fourth quarter. Year over year, prices were up 5.5%.
“The fourth quarter was another strong one for house prices, as it was the third consecutive quarter where U.S. price growth exceeded 1 percent,” said Andrew Leventis, FHFA’s principal economist, in a statement discussing the numbers. “While a significant number of homes remained in the foreclosure pipeline, the actual number of homes available for sale was very low and fell over the course of the quarter.”
However, FHFA’s data also showed that some of the reported strength in prices stemmed from a decrease in distressed sales during the quarter. The agency’s “distress-free” home price index showed that in nine of the 12 metro areas covered by the new index, price improvements were more modest than those seen in the purchase-only rankings.
Claire Easley is a senior editor at Builder.