House price increases slowed slightly in April, says S&P Case-Shiller

People walk into a house for sale in Floral Park, Nassau County, New York.

Wang Ying | Xinhua News Agency | Getty pictures

House price increases never slowed down so little in April, but this is the first potential sign of a cooling of prices.

Prices rose 20.4% nationally in April compared to the same month a year ago, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Index. In March, house prices rose by 20.6 per cent. The last weak deceleration was in November last year.

The annual increase in 10 cities was 19.7%, up from 19.5% in March. The composite with 20 cities gave an annual gain of 21.2%, up from 21.1% last month.

In a change from the last five months, when most of the 20 cities saw price increases from month to month, only nine cities saw prices rise faster in April than they had in March. Cities in the South continued to see the strongest monthly gains, including Charlotte, North Carolina; Tampa, Florida; Atlanta, Dallas and Miami.

“April 2022 showed initial (albeit inconsistent) signs of a slowdown in US house price growth,” wrote Craig Lazzara, CEO of S&P DJI, in a release. “We continue to observe a very broad strength in the housing market, as all 20 cities had double-digit price increases for the 12 months ended in April. The April price increase ranked in the top quintile of historical experience for each city, and in the top decile for 19 of them.”

Tampa, Miami and Phoenix continued to lead the herd with the strongest price gains. Tampa house prices rose, with an impressive price increase of 35.8% year-on-year, followed by Miami, with an increase of 33.3%, and Phoenix, with an increase of 31.3%. Nine of the 20 cities reported higher price increases in the year ending April 2022 compared to the year ending March 2022.

The cities with the smallest winnings, although still double-digit, were Minneapolis, Washington and Chicago.

Not only are these price gains for April, but the index is a three-month moving average. The average interest rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage passed exactly 5% in April after rising from around 3% in January. By June, it had passed 6%.

“We noted last month that mortgage financing has become more expensive as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, a process that had only just begun when April data was collected,” Lazzara said. “A more challenging macroeconomic environment may not support extraordinary house price growth much longer.”

The housing market is already cooling down, with lower sales and reports of price declines among some sellers. The supply of homes for sale has also increased steadily, as more listings come on the market and homes that are already on it stand longer. Active inventory last week was 21% higher than it was the same week a year ago, according to Realtor.com.

“For buyers and sellers, the road ahead will require more flexibility in pricing, refreshing bargaining power and a recognition that market conditions today are different than six months ago,” said George Ratiu, senior economist at Realtor.com.