Rising prices likely to dampen affordability

  • Driven in part by a healthy economy and near historic low inventory, the U.S. housing market is showing signs of picking up steam. Home price increases in December were the largest in two and a half years, and homebuyers should expect the quickening of price gains to persist this spring buying season.
  • We’re seeing signs that price gains are finally spreading into previously cool markets. For example, at 8.4% price gains in Tampa, Fla., are just behind the market leaders of Seattle, Portland, and Denver and were the largest there since June 2014.
  • This spring housing market is shaping up to be another doozy for homebuyers. Housing affordability is the key to helping break yet another year of gridlocked inventory, but all signs are showing that homes this spring will be much less affordable than last year.

Today’s S&P Core Logic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index increased 5.8% year-over-year in December, which is the 56th consecutive month of positive gains and the largest since June 2014. December was also the sixth straight month in which the year-over-year figure increased over the previous month. Driven in part by a healthy economy and near historic low inventory, this is a sign the U.S. housing market is picking up steam. Home price increases in December were also the largest in two and a half years, and homebuyers should expect the quickening of price gains to persist this spring buying season. While the S&P/Case-Shiller National Home Price Index is an important metric to watch, it’s worth noting that the measure is more reflective of price movements in premium homes rather than middle or lower-tier homes.

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We’re also seeing signs of price gains spreading into previously cool markets. For example, at 8.4% price gains in Tampa, Fla., are just behind Seattle, Portland, and Denver, and were the largest since June 2014.

This spring housing market is shaping up to be another doozy for homebuyers. Housing affordability is the key to helping break yet another year of gridlocked inventory, but all signs are showing that homes this spring will be much less affordable than last year.