Home Prices Up 0.8% for February

Home prices are up for February, according to a S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index report (link opens as PDF) released today.

After increasing 0.8% for January, the index's 20-city home-price composite added on another seasonally adjusted 0.8% for the second month of 2014. Analysts had expected a 0.7% price hike -- just shy of actual results. On a nonseasonally adjusted basis, prices held steady at January levels.

On a longer-term basis, however, price growth seems to have slowed. For the 12 months ending in February, the 20-city composite showed average home prices increased 12.9%, down slightly from January's 13.2% boost.

"The annual rates cooled the most we’ve seen in some time," noted David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, in a statement today. "The three California cities and Las Vegas have the strongest increases over the last 12 months as the West continues to lead. Denver and Dallas remain the only cities which have reached new post-crisis price peaks. The Northeast with New York, Washington and Boston are seeing some of the slowest year-over-year gains."

Blitzer also noted that slower price gains isn't translating to higher sales. New home and existing-home sales are "flat to down," even as home prices remain below 2005 levels. Consumer-side challenges include higher mortgage interest rates since May 2013, loan difficulty, and overall lack of consumer confidence.

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