The latest FNC Residential Price Index (RPI) shows U.S. home prices continue to rise, up another 0.6 percent from February to March. Constructed to gauge the price movement among normal home sales exclusive of distressed properties, the index increased 1.3 percent during the first quarter. The index’s year-over-year growth remains steady at about nine percent, which is largely unchanged since December.
Despite signs of decreased housing activity, sales of non-distressed homes continue to rise moderately, driving prices higher. As of April, foreclosure sales nationwide accounted for 12.6 percent of total home sales, down from 13.4 percent in March. The for-sale markets continue to see smaller and fewer price markdowns. April’s average asking-price discount dropped to 2.0 percent from March’s 2.6 percent.
FNC’s RPI is the mortgage industry’s first hedonic price index built on a comprehensive database that blends public records of residential sales prices with real-time appraisals of property and neighborhood attributes. As a gauge of underlying home values, the RPI excludes final sales of REO and foreclosed homes, which are frequently sold with large price discounts, likely reflecting poor property conditions.
Based on recorded sales of non-distressed properties (existing and new homes) in the 100 largest metropolitan areas, the FNC national composite index shows that, in March, home prices rose slightly faster than February or January at a seasonally unadjusted rate of 0.6 percent. The two narrower indices (30- and 10-MSA composites) show the March price increase in the nation’s top housing markets has slowed quite a bit since January or February. The two composites’ year-over-year trends continue to suggest a steady growth in the double digits.
San Antonio and Miami show the largest one-month increase at nearly 3.0 percent, followed closely by Charlotte, Riverside, and Sacramento at more 2.0 percent each. This is the second consecutive month that Sacramento experienced a steep price increase. While up in most other markets, home prices in Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus and New York fell by more than 1.0 percent each and in Baltimore, by 2.4 percent. Baltimore home prices have been declining since November, averaging 1.2 percent per month. Home prices also continue to weaken in Denver, making March the seventh consecutive month of negative month-to-month change.
The Year-to-Year and Cumulative Recovery numbers show a widening gap across the nation in the ongoing housing recovery. More than two years into the recovery and led by Phoenix at 54.0 percent, the cities in the sand states have seen home prices rising by nearly 40 percent on average. In stark contrast, the recovery in several major Corn Belt cities including St. Louis, Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati has not lifted prices by much, lagging considerably behind the rest of the country.