US home prices rose at the fastest pace in nearly 3 years

Although the Chicago area can't make the same claim the Case Shiller Chicago index did rise in the rankings of 20 metro areas based upon a 6.2% year over year increase in single family home prices.

USA homes prices rose steadily upward in February as more homebuyers chased fewer properties. He adds, "Housing affordability has declined since 2012 as the pressure of higher prices has been a larger factor than stable-to-lower mortgage rates". Indeed, the biggest annual price gains were reported in these cities (Seattle, Portland, and Dallas). Last month, sales of existing homes reached their highest level in a decade.

Before the seasonal adjustment, the National Index posted a month-over-month gain of 0.2 percent in February while the 10-City Composite posted a 0.3 percent increase and the 20-City Composite reported a 0.4 percent rise. The strong demand, however, hasn't enticed more Americans to sell their homes.

From January to February, prices rose moderately across the country but dipped 0.3 percent in Cleveland. At the same time, the number of houses for sale has dropped steadily, forcing many would-be buyers into bidding wars.

Many homeowners have benefited from sharp price gains of recent years, but those increases have also made it harder for them to "trade up" to a bigger house, discouraging them from selling.

Still, some relief may be on the horizon, though it's not clear when.

The gains are being driven by growing demand thanks to rising wages and a large demographic of people entering their 30s and looking to buy homes, as well as limited supply.

The 10-city index gained 5.2% over the year, compared with 5% the prior month, and the 20-city index rose 5.9% year-over-year, compared with a 5.7% increase in January.

New home sales of new single-family houses in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 621,000, according to estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

February's S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index numbers set a fourth consecutive all-time high - the highest HPI seen in a whopping 32 months. But Dallas, which is now running 8.8 percent higher on a year-over-year basis, has displaced Denver (8.5 percent) for the third place spot.

  • Larry Hoffman