Home prices rose 3.8% in the 12 months through December, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index. The gains in December followed a 3.5% increase in the 12 months through December as home prices heated up toward the end of 2019.
- Home prices rose 3.8% annually in December, led by gains in Phoenix, Charlotte, and Tampa.
- The 10-city composite index rose 2.4% annually, and the 20-city composite index rose 2.9%.
- Prices are being driven higher due to very low inventories, particularly of lower-priced homes.
The housing market saw increased activity in late 2019 following months of decelerated price growth. The 10-city and 20-city composite indexes both saw annual gains in December higher than those seen in November. Phoenix, Charlotte, and Tampa continue to top the list of cities with growing home prices, with annual growth of 6.5%, 5.3%, and 5.2% respectively. Twelve out of 20 cities saw accelerated price gains in the 12 months through December compared to November. All cities in the 20-city composite index saw price growth, with the smallest gains in Chicago and New York at 1% each.
Land and labor shortages have led to tight inventory in the housing market. Recent data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that last month’s pace of sales would exhaust the current inventory of used homes in just over 3 months. This is well below the 6 – 7 months that the market views as a healthy balance between supply and demand. Houses are in particularly short supply in lower price ranges, negatively impacting affordability despite mortgage rates at their lowest level in eight years. Bidding wars for the available supply of houses has driven prices higher than normal, with the supply tightening nationwide since fall.
FHFA House Price Index saw a 0.6% increase in Dec and 1.3% for 2019 Q4. Home prices are up 5.1% over a year ago after 34 consecutive quarters of rising. House prices rose in 97 of the top 100 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. over the last 4 quarters. https://t.co/5C8AKB40NQ pic.twitter.com/yy79P3LVrD
— MTS Insights (@MTSInsights) February 25, 2020
Global Head of Index Investment Strategy at S&P Dow Jones Indices, Craig Lazzara, commented that the housing market continues to be in a period of stable growth. “This marks eight consecutive years of increasing housing. At the national level, home prices are 59% above the trough reached in February 2012, and 15% above their pre-financial crisis peak. Results for 2019 were broad-based, with gains in every city in our 20-City Composite.”
Gold prices have trended downward following the release of the housing market date. Spot gold last traded at $1,650.76/oz, down -1.29% with a high of $1,674.48/oz and a low of $1,635.33/oz. Now trading midway in the daily range, gold may have undergone a natural correction following aggressive gains in recent days due to market fears around the COVID-19 virus outbreak.
UBS strategist Joni Teves outlined the possibility for gold to top $1,700 in a report written on Monday, saying “A Fed cut in April, as our U.S. economists expect, or further escalation in the Covid-19 outbreak is likely to propel the market higher and trade through $1,700.
"However, the impact of positioning on short-term price trends cannot be ignored either. Given the sharp rally in prices, the substantial build in speculative length, and gold's current sensitivity to shifts in risk sentiment, we prefer to turn cautious from these levels. We mark to market our three-month target to $1,650 from $1,550 [in a previous forecast], holding our core view unchanged."