Unusually cold winter weather has been blamed for a slow housing market the past few months, but prices for single-family homes edged up slightly in January, signaling the beginning of a thaw.
The S&P/Case-Shiller index of 20 metropolitan areas increased by 0.8 percent in January on a seasonally adjusted basis. David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, says in a release that the increase slightly beat analysts' expectations. He adds that he expects continued price gains for 2014.
"From the bottom in 2012, prices are up 23 percent and the housing market is showing signs of moving forward with more normal price increases," he says.
Warm places fared better
Highest monthly increases were in the Sun Belt, with Las Vegas leading after a 1.1 percent increase, followed by Miami, which rose 0.7 percent. San Diego rose 0.6 percent, the best January performance for that city since 2004. Year over year, Las Vegas increased by 24.9 percent and San Francisco by 23.1 percent.
While prices were up, sales were down
Lindsey Piegza, chief economist for Sterne Agee, writes in a report that declining home sales in February suggest a weaker-than-expected start to the year. Bad weather temporarily halted activity, she notes, adding that "industry insiders continue to express concern over rising rates and elevated prices, reducing affordability and tempering demand on a longer-term basis."
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