FNC: Home Prices Up 0.5%, On Average, In February

U.S. home prices increased about 0.5%, on average, in February compared to January, according to FNC's Residential Price Index (RPI).

The report is based on recorded sales of non-distressed properties (existing and new homes) in the 100 largest metropolitan areas (MSAs). It also includes home price data for the top 30 and top 10 largest MSAs.

According to the report, home prices increased 9.1%, on average, in February compared to February 2013. This brings home values back to averages attained at the peak of the housing market in June 2006.

FNC is optimistic that the spring buying season will pick up which in turn should help boost home prices further. The firm points out that mortgage rates remain low and have even decreased slightly in recent weeks. Listings have increased and there are fewer price markdowns. In fact, the average asking price rose 5% in March, reaching a 20-month high. Meanwhile, the asking-price discount dropped to 2.6% and an advance April estimate indicates there will be further declines.

The report's 30- and 10-city composites show faster monthly price appreciation in the nation's top housing markets, up 0.7% and 0.8% respectively. The two composites' year-over-year trends also show more rapid price accelerations and the highest annual rate of growth since June 2006.

Sacramento, Calif. and Chicago saw the largest month-over-month increases in home prices in February, compared to January, at 2.9% each. Home prices in Seattle; Orlando; Phoenix; San Francisco; Riverside, Calif.; Las Vegas; Houston; Los Angeles; and San Diego continue to record solid improvement more than two years into the recovery.

Cities where home prices declined in February, compared to January, included Baltimore (down 0.9%), Denver (down 0.3%), Minneapolis (down 0.4%), Portland (down 0.9%), St. Louis (down 0.4%) and Washington D.C. (down 0.7%).

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