| 20 March 2023, Monday |

U.S. house price inflation cools further in December

According to polls released on Tuesday, prices for single-family homes in the United States rose at their slowest rate since the summer of 2020 in December, but a lack of inventory may prevent prices from falling as predicted.

All nine of the U.S. census divisions are represented by the S&P CoreLogic Case Shiller national home price index, which grew 5.8% year over year in December. Following a 7.6% increase in November, that was the weakest yearly growth since the middle of 2020. After a record-breaking 18.9% price growth in 2021, prices increased 5.8% in 2022.

“The cooling in home prices that began in June 2022 continued through year end, as December marked the sixth consecutive month of declines for our National Composite Index,” said Craig Lazzara, managing director at S&P DJI.

The housing market has been hammered by the Federal Reserve’s aggressive monetary policy stance, with residential investment contracting for seven straight quarters, the longest such stretch since 2009.

Though there are signs the housing market is stabilizing, with pending home sales rising by the most in more than 2-1/2 years in January and new home sales hitting a 10-month high, it will be a while before it turns around.

Mortgage rates have resumed their ascent after robust consumer spending and labor market data as well as strong monthly inflation readings raised the prospect of the U.S. central bank hiking interest rates into the summer.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate increased to an average of 6.50% last week from 6.32% in the prior week, according to data from mortgage finance agency Freddie Mac. The third straight weekly increase lifted the rate to a three-month high.

A separate report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency on Tuesday showed home prices advanced 6.6% in the 12 months through December, the smallest rise since June 2020, after increasing 8.2% in November. They increased 6.6% in 2022 compared to a gain of 18.0% in 2021.

While higher mortgages are hurting demand and cooling house price inflation, the FHFA noted that “these negative pressures were partially offset by historically low inventory.”

  • Reuters