Case-Shiller Index: U.S. Home Prices Post Healthy Gain in December

case shiller indexBy CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. home prices rose at a healthy pace in December compared with a year ago, driven higher by rising sales and a smaller supply of available homes.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index, released Tuesday, rose 6.8 percent in December compared with the same month a year ago. That's up from a 5.5 percent annual gain in November.

Nationwide, the report showed that prices rose 7.3 percent in 2012. That is similar to other home price measures that show a healthy gain last year.

Prices also rose in December compared with a year ago in 19 of the 20 cities tracked by the index. New York was the only metro area to show a decrease.

Steady price increases should help fuel the housing recovery. They encourage more people to buy before prices rise further. Higher prices also build homeowners' wealth, which can spur more spending and economic growth.

Purchases of previously occupied homes rose last year to their highest level in five years. The National Association of Realtors forecasts that sales will rise 9 percent this year. Independent economists have similar forecasts.

At the same time, the number of available homes for sale fell last month to the lowest level in 13 years.

In December, the 20-city index ticked up 0.2 percent from the previous month, reversing November's small decline.

The S&P/Case-Shiller index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. It measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The November figures are the latest available.

Despite the increases, prices nationwide are still about 30 percent below the peak they reached at the height of the housing bubble in the summer of 2006. They are now at the same level as in the fall of 2003.

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As much as I'd love to see it, I do not believe it's happening, at least not where I live. Mortgages, even with stellar credit, are difficult to get. I just refinanced and it took me 2 months of jumping through all order of hoops, even with an 800-plus score and a 5%er's income. The squeeze on money is hampering expansion, but I don't blame banks. Who wants to lend to risky borrowers when they just walk away?

February 26 2013 at 3:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jj2301's comment

Yes, the rules have tighten up some (a good thing), but if you are credit worthly, you will be fine. I refied 2 places and bought 3 more in the last 12 months. No issues, but it does take longer .Fannie does not allow lenders to do 2-3 steps at one time anymore, so it takes longer, and a a couple hundred pages of paperwork submitted as they are really watching investors now. And of course, the one phone call asking one dumb question, just to justify someones job. My daughter's refi (all cash out), on her house, went right thru with almost no paperwork (Fannie back loan too), I was amazed.

February 26 2013 at 5:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob Mull

seller loses, buyer wins

February 26 2013 at 3:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob Mull

seller loses, buyer wins

February 26 2013 at 3:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
is it snowing?

Oh Hell Yeah! 2 feet and climbing NEED THE SNOW!!!!!

February 26 2013 at 1:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Condos are up 30% from thier lows 2 years ago here. Multiple bids in just a few days, some over asking price.

February 26 2013 at 12:39 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

nobody can get a mortgage and banks are getting ready to resume foreclosures on a large scale and housing prices are going up?

February 26 2013 at 11:17 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

got news for these folks, their artificial price rise is gonna take a pratt fall when everyone discovers it's so much crap. the money folks are bettin on the come like the Oklahoma sooners and gess ain't gona happen.
too damn many taxes, too high fuel costs by greedy market manipulators and oil companies, phoney reasons to raise the oil price by the barrel, health care going through the roof, fine people for not having enough money to purchase insurance, wish to hell the govt would mandate purchases from my business FACE ONE SIMPLE FACT: WHEN YOUR BANK ACCOUNT IS EMPTY, YOUR CHECKS BOUNCE. SEND EM HOME!

February 26 2013 at 11:11 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply