Case-Shiller: U.S. Home Prices Continued to Climb in March, Despite Pandemic

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U.S. home prices were largely unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic in March, rising 0.5% on an adjusted basis compared with February, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index.

The index’s 10-city and 20-city composites posted increases of 1.0% and 1.1%, respectively.

Year-over-year, U.S. home prices were up 4.4%.

“March’s data witnessed the first impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices,” says Craig J. Lazzara, managing director and global head of index investment strategy at S&P Dow Jones Indices, in a statement. “We have data from only 19 cities this month, since transactions records for Wayne County, Mich. (in the Detroit metropolitan area), were unavailable. 

“That said, housing prices continue to be remarkably stable,” Lazzara says. “March’s year-over-year gains were ahead of February’s, continuing a trend of gently accelerating home prices that began last autumn. March results were broad-based. Prices rose in each of the 19 cities for which we have reported data, and price increases accelerated in 17 cities.”

Phoenix, Seattle and Charlotte reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 19 cities (excluding Detroit for the month).

Phoenix led the way with an 8.2% year-over-year price increase, followed by Seattle at 6.9% and Charlotte at 5.8%.

Seventeen of the 19 cities reported higher price increases in the year ending March versus the year ending February. 

“Prices were particularly strong in the West and Southeast, and comparatively weak in the Midwest and Northeast,” Lazzara says.

“Importantly, today’s report covers real estate transactions closed during the month of March,” he adds. “Housing prices have not yet registered any adverse effects from the governmental suppression of economic activity in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As much of the U.S. economy remained shuttered in April, next month’s data may show a more noticeable impact.” 

Bill Banfield, executive vice president of capital markets for Quicken Loans, says the pandemic “is only exacerbating the already low housing inventory, causing home prices to trend up.“

“While prices plummeted during previous periods of financial distress, currently, purchase demand is strong – keeping them steadily rising,” Banfield says. “Unless there is a major shift in the amount of people looking to buy a house, it seems owners will continue to see their home’s value increase every month.”

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