Rise in home prices in U.S. beats estimates

U.S. home prices rose more than economists estimated in August as employment growth fueled demand for housing.

Prices climbed 0.5 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from July, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said Thursday in a report from Washington, D.C. The average economist estimate was for a 0.3 percent increase, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Values have been rising as the economy improves. Sales of previously owned homes increased 2.4 percent in September to the highest level in a year, the National Association of Realtors said earlier this week. The jobless rate dropped to a six-year low of 5.9 percent last month, Labor Department data show.

In central Indiana, median sales prices rose 5.1 percent in September, to $141,900, when compared to the same month of 2013, according to the Metropolitan Board of Realtors. MIBOR included data from 13 counties.

Improving demand and tight supplies are a “reason to think that the recent moderation in house-price growth will soon come to an end,” Paul Diggle, property economist for Capital Economics Ltd. in London, wrote in a note to clients on Oct. 21. “Although, a return to the double-digit gains of last year is not in the cards.”

The FHFA’s report showed prices rose 4.8 percent in August from a year earlier. The pace of gains has slowed in the past year. Values in August 2013, by comparison, were up 8.3 percent from a year earlier, FHFA data show.

Prices this August climbed 7.8 percent from a year earlier in the Pacific region, which includes California, Oregon and Washington, and 6.2 percent in the Mountain region, with states such as Colorado, Nevada and Arizona. The Middle Atlantic area (New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania) had the smallest increase, at 1.9 percent.

The FHFA index measures transactions for single-family properties financed with mortgages owned or securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The U.S. measure is 5.8 percent below its April 2007 peak and about the same as the August 2005 level.

The median sale price of an existing single-family home in September was $210,300, up 5.9 percent from a year earlier, the Realtors group said.

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