Case-Shiller home price index rises 5.9%, beating expectations

A home for sale is seen in Santa Monica California

A home for sale is seen in Santa Monica California

Prices increased by 0.9 percent in July 2017 compared with June 2017.

Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and Las Vegas, Nevada reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities.

Before seasonal adjustment, the National Index posted a month-over-month gain of 0.7% in July. The Ten-City Composite posted a 0.4% month-over-month increase.

The index tracks prices on a three-month rolling average. Twelve cities reported greater price increases in the year ending July 2017 versus the year ending June 2017. CoreLogic predicts that average home prices will increase 5 percent through July 2018. Analysts estimated a 5.6%-5.9% annual growth. Consumers, through home buying and other spending, are the driving force in the current economic expansion.

The U.S. housing market entered a odd kind of twilight zone over the summer, in which home prices kept rising steadily, but actual home sales activity largely leveled off at fairly underwhelming levels. A healthy labor market also helped prices. In July, Seattle led the way with a 13.5% year-over-year price increase, followed by Portland with a 7.6% increase, and Las Vegas with a 7.4% increase. "The combination of steadily rising purchase demand along with very tight inventory of unsold homes should keep upward pressure on home prices for the remainder of this year". The Builders Sentiment Index published by the National Association of Home Builders also leveled off after March.

Despite the uptick in prices, Blitzer warned that the housing market may be slowing down. On the national index, home prices are now 5.1% above the July 2006 peak and 44.9% higher than their low-point in February 2012.

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