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April data shows softening appreciation.

April's housing market data saw the sixth straight month of weakening in the nation's quarterly rate of home-price gains, according to Clear Capital, Truckee, California. The data and valuation tool provider also reported national home prices through April 2015 were up 5.1 percent on a year-over-year basis. The quarterly appreciation pace was 0.5 percent, the company said.

In a press release dated May 4, the company noted, "While single-digit and percentage-point gains can rally consumers, the overall health and recovery of the market is far from a sure thing."

Clear Capital noted that while most of the regions of the country saw sustained price growth through the winter, the Midwest was already seeing negative quarterly home-price declines of minus 0.10 percent. That region's year-over-year price gains of 4.7 percent also under-performed the national average of 5.1 percent.

The West posted uniformly better appreciation trends, with eight of the top-performing markets in April being Western housing markets. But Clear Capital noted in its release that price gains in this region also have been softening since the beginning of 2014.

Even so, the West saw 1.1 percent quarter-over-quarter gains and a 7.4 percent appreciation rate for the year based on data through April. That compares with national quarterly gains of 0.5 percent and yearly gains of 5.1 percent.

Among the western markets that ranked on the list of best-performing major metro markets were: Fresno, California (quarterly gain of 1.3 percent, annual gain 7.7 percent); Los Angeles (quarterly gain of 1.2 percent, annual gain 8.2 percent); Riverside, California (quarterly gain of 1 percent, annual gain 8.3 percent); Sacramento, California (quarterly gain of 0.9 percent, annual gain 6.7 percent); and San Diego (quarterly gain of 0.9 percent, annual gain 6.3 percent).

Topping the list of best-performing markets was Seattle-Tacoma, Washington, with yearly gains of 9.8 percent and quarterly gains of 1.6 percent. Coming in second place was Pittsburgh, also with a quarterly gain of 1.6 percent and an annual price gain of 15.1 percent. The third through fifth spots were taken by: Houston-Baytown-Sugar Land, Texas (with quarterly gains of 1.5 percent, annual gains of 11.2 percent); Denver (with quarterly gains of 1.3 percent, annual gains 10.2 percent); and Fresno, California.

The lowest-performing major housing market based on the April data was Providence, Rhode Island-New Bedford, Massachusetts-Fall River, Massachusetts, according to Clear Capital. That market saw a quarterly price decline of 3.7 percent and yearly price depreciation of 10.9 percent.

The second-weakest major market was Birmingham, Alabama, with a quarterly price decline of 1.4 percent and a yearly decline of 0.1 percent. Rounding out the list of five weakest markets were: Hartford, Connecticut (with quarterly decline of 1.0 percent, yearly price decline of 5.1 percent); Baltimore (quarterly decline of 0.7 percent, yearly decline of 2.2 percent) and Cleveland, Ohio (quarterly decline of minus 0.4 percent, annual gain of 2.6 percent).

Commenting on the numbers, Alex Villacorta, vice president of research and analytics at Clear Capital, said, "While spring brings renewed confidence and demand, the numbers through April are mixed."

He added, "Sales may be up, but subsiding gains imply the recovery is at a critical inflection point. As the market normalizes--a good thing for housing overall--small losses could have greater impact, forcing a standstill or, even worse, a return to negative territory in certain areas across the country."

Villacorta summed it up by saying, "Bottom line, the early spring numbers are encouraging--but rest assured, the overall market is far from being back to normal."
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Title Annotation:NEWS ROOM
Publication:Mortgage Banking
Date:Jun 1, 2015
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