US housing market: US home prices grew at record pace in January – S&P Global

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US home prices continued to scale higher in January. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller US National Home Price NSA Index, covering all nine US census divisions, was up 6.0% year over year in January, surpassing the 5.6% year-over-year increase in December 2023.

On an annual basis, the 10-City Composite logged a 7.4% increase in January, up from a 7.0% rise recorded the previous month. The 20-City Composite posted a yearly increase of 6.6%, up from a 6.2% yearly gain the previous month.

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San Diego again logged the highest year-over-year gain among the 20 cities on the index, recording an 11.2% rise in January, followed again by Los Angeles with an increase of 8.6%.

Month over month, the US National Index rose 0.4% after seasonal adjustment, up from a 0.2% monthly gain in December 2023. The 20-City Composite and 10-City Composite indexes posted month-over-month price gains of 0.1% and 0.2%, respectively.

“US home prices continued their drive higher,” Brian Luke, head of commodities, real and digital assets at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a March 26 release. “Homeowners most likely saw healthy gains in the last year, no matter what city you were in, or if it was in an expensive or inexpensive neighborhood. No matter which way you slice it, the index performance closely resembled the broad market.”

Mortgage rates show signs of decline

US mortgage rates slipped for the first time in several weeks after rising consistently since early February.

The interest rate on a 30-year fixed conforming mortgage rate rose 16 basis points from 6.81% on Feb. 9 to 6.97% on March 8, before dipping to 6.92% as of March 25.

The average US 15-year fixed conforming mortgage rate rose from 6.24% on Feb. 9 to 6.44% on March 19, falling to 6.40% on March 25.

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Existing home sales log sequential growth

Existing home sales continued to rise on a monthly basis in February but remained lower than the year-ago period, according to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Existing home sales increased month over month by 9.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.38 million units. The sequential gain was the highest since February 2023, according to a March 21 NAR news release. Year-over-year sales fell 3.3%.

Three of the four major US regions logged month-over-month increases in existing home sales in February. In the West, existing home sales rose 16.4% from a month ago to an annual rate of 850,000 units in February, the highest sequential gain among the four regions.

All four regions posted year-over-year declines in existing home sales, with the Northeast registering the highest fall. On a month-over-month basis, existing home sales in the Northeast remain unchanged at an annual rate of 480,000 units for the fourth consecutive month.

“Due to inventory constraints, the Northeast was the regional underperformer in February home sales but the best performer in home prices. More supply is clearly needed to help stabilize home prices and get more Americans moving to their next residences,” Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the NAR, said in the news release.

Turning to new home sales, in the US they declined 0.3% below the revised January rate of 664,000 units to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 662,000 units in February. Year-over-year sales increased 5.9%.

The Northeast recorded the highest month-over-month decline and the largest yearly increase in new home sales. Sales in the region declined 31.5% from the previous month but rose 60.9% year over year, to an annual rate of 37,000 units in February.

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Top mortgage lender

Pontiac, Mich.-based UWM Holdings Corp. continued as the top US residential mortgage lender with $77.93 billion in mortgages for the full year 2023, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

The value of total residential mortgages originated in 2023 was $1.990 trillion, down 35.8% year over year.

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