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Home Price Growth Continues to Ease

slow-growthA third look at home prices for the month of June shows a stall in ongoing improvements as the recovery continues to slow.

The S&P/Case-Shiller National Price Index gained 6.2 percent annually in June, according to a report released Tuesday from S&P Dow Jones Indices. That figure was down from a yearly increase of 7.1 percent in May.

The narrower 10- and 20-city composite indices each gained 8.1 percent compared to May's improvements of 9.4 percent and 9.3 percent, respectively.

The slowdown across the three indices continues a trend that started last fall.

"For the first time since February 2008, all cities showed lower annual rates than the previous month," said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. "Other housing indicators—starts, existing home sales and builders' sentiment—are positive. Taken together, these point to a more normal housing sector."

Of the top 20 metros surveyed, a handful continue to post double-digit annual returns, led by Las Vegas at 15.2 percent. Following Vegas were San Francisco (12.9 percent), Miami (11.5 percent), Los Angeles (10.5 percent), Detroit (10.3 percent), and San Diego (10.2 percent).

Even among those bigger gains, however, slowdown was evident in June. For example, San Francisco saw its growth rate fall by nearly 3 percentage points for the second straight month, bringing price increases down from 18.4 percent as recently as April.

With the latest increases, S&P Dow Jones estimates the peak-to-current decline for both the 10- and 20-city composites is close to 17 percent. Based on their March 2012 lows, the 10- and 20-city indices have recovered 27.8 percent and 28.5 percent, respectively.

The S&P/Case-Shiller report compares to Monday's price index from Black Knight Financial Services. That measure, which looks at home prices in more than 18,000 ZIP codes, showed a 5.5 percent annual increase at the national level.

Earlier in the month, FNC put out its own Residential Price Index, which looked at prices of non-distressed properties in June and found growth was down to 8 percent.

All three index reports offered further evidence of diminishing returns for price growth—a trend Blitzer expects to continue as the Federal Reserve looks at bringing interest rates up in the near future.

"Bargain basement mortgage rates won't continue forever; recent improvements in the labor markets and comments from Fed chair Janet Yellen and others hint that interest rates could rise as soon as the first quarter of 2015. Rising mortgage rates won't send housing into a tailspin, but will further dampen price gains," he said.

About Author: Tory Barringer

Tory Barringer began his journalism career in early 2011, working as a writer for the University of Texas at Arlington's student newspaper before joining the DS News team in 2012. In addition to contributing to DSNews.com, he is also the online editor for DS News' sister publication, MReport, which focuses on mortgage banking news.

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