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USA home prices rise in March as spring buying season begins

USA home prices rise in March as spring buying season begins

But for now, unemployment remains low and home prices have are remarkably strong, according to the S & P Case Shiller Home Price Index.

South Florida home prices rose 6.2 percent in March from a year earlier, according to a national housing index released Tuesday.

"The economy is supporting the price increases with improving labor markets, falling unemployment rates and extremely low mortgage rates", said David Blitzer, managing director at S&P Dow Jones Indices. "While rising home prices are certainly a factor deterring home purchases, individual financial positions are more important than local housing market conditions". Analysts surveyed by Econoday had expected a 5.1% gain for the year and a 0.7% increase for the month.

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Portland led the way with a 12.3% year-over-year price increase, followed by Seattle with 10.8%, and Denver with a 10.0% increase. Coming in last was Washington DC with a measly 1.5% but Chicago was not much better with only a 1.9% increase.

The month/month increase in March home prices is the ninth consecutive month/month rise since prices declined in May and June past year. Nationally, the number of listings now is less than 2 percent of the number of households in the country, the lowest percentage since the mid-1980s, he said. "While the S&P/Case-Shiller National Home Price Index is an important metric to watch, it's worth noting that the measure is more reflective of price movements in premium homes rather than middle or lower tier homes". The unadjusted Cleveland prices were up 0.1 percent. The 20-city index remained unchanged with a 4.7% increase in both February and March, and the 10-city index also remained unchanged at an increase of 5.4%.

On the other end of the spectrum, several Western cities saw the biggest annual price hikes (potentially producing a windfall for sellers). Seattle and Denver took second and third place after Portland with 10.8 percent and 10 percent increases, respectively. All four cities had rising jobless rates from March 2015 to March 2016.

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