Wisconsin Chronicle

Home price gains heated up in February

Home price gains heated up in February

Americans watched the value of their homes rise faster in February, an influential report on the housing market showed Tuesday. Home prices rose 5% year-over year compared with 4.5% in January, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city index of home prices. Denver and San Francisco had the strongest annual gains — 10% and 9.8%, respectively.Homes are seen for sale in the northwest area of Portland

Seventeen cities reported higher year-over-year price increases in the year ended February 2015 than in the year ended January 2015, with San Francisco showing the largest acceleration. Three cities — San Diego, Las Vegas and Portland, Ore. — reported slower annual paces in price increases. Home prices nationally peaked in 2006 before beginning their infamous slide and bottoming out in 2012. While prices have rebounded in many markets, Denver and Dallas are the only two cities in Case-Shiller’s survey where prices are ahead of their housing boom peaks.

Nationally, prices are 10% below their July 2006 peak, said David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. Las Vegas’ prices fell the most — 61.7% from peak to trough — but has the farthest to climb to set a new high, Blitzer said. It is 41.5% below its high. Home sales also are showing some pick-up as spring continues.

Existing-home sales in March reached their highest annual rate in 18 months. And new-home sales, though down from February’s unusually strong pace, were almost 20% higher than in March 2014. Mortgage rates remain near this year’s lows. The average U.S. rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.65% in Freddie Mac’s latest survey for the week ending April 23, down from 4.33% a year ago.