Today, Case Shiller released their housing price index data for February 2015 which showed that house prices rose 4.8 percent from February one year ago for the 10-city composite vs. 4.3 percent in January and 5.0 percent for the 20-city composite vs. 4.5 percent in January. The national index showed a gain of 4.2 percent year over year, somewhat weaker than the 4.4 percent observed in January.
Last week NAR reported growing prices in February and March. Price growth in the year ended March 2015 was 7.8 percent after rising 7.2 percent in February and 5.2 percent in January. FHFA January data showed a gain of 5.4 percent for the year ended February 2015 after a gain of 5.1 percent for the year ending in January.
All of the recent price measures except the Case Shiller National index are showing an increase or acceleration in the pace of price growth from January to February, and the NAR data shows a continued acceleration into March. In fact, of the 20 cities Case Shiller tracks closely, only 3 cities did not see accelerating prices, and all 3 of these cities are seeing healthy rates of price growth: Las Vegas (5.8% from 6.0%), San Diego (4.7% from 5.1%), and Portland (7.1% from 7.3%). Strong buyer demand and low inventories coupled with relatively low new construction are helping to push prices up, keeping the housing market tipped in favor of sellers.
Of course, potential buyers and sellers should be sure to put the national numbers in the context of what is going on in their local markets. The fastest overall growth rates were seen in Denver (10.0%), San Francisco (9.8%), Miami (9.2%) and Dallas (8.6%) had the fastest growth in the year ending February 2015. By contrast, Washington DC (1.4%), Cleveland (2.3%), and New York (2.5%) had the slowest year over year growth. Data shows that sellers in these somewhat weaker areas may not have as much power to demand higher prices for their homes given the local market.
NAR reports the median price of all homes that have sold while Case Shiller reports the results of a weighted repeat-sales index. Case Shiller uses public records data which has a reporting lag. To deal with the lag, Case Shiller data is based on a 3 month moving average, so reported February prices include information from repeat transactions closed in December, January, and February. For this reason, the changes in the NAR median price tend to lead Case Shiller and may suggest that an additional pick-up in prices will be seen in the next few months.