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US home prices climb in April; 7 cities at record highs

Charlotte is now one of seven of the nation’s 20 largest housing markets that have set a new price high, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Index.

The Case-Shiller 20-city home price index increased 5.4 percent in April compared with a year earlier, just a tick down from the 5.5 percent annual gain in March. Home values nationally are now just 9.6 percent below their peak nearly a decade ago, according to the report released Tuesday.

Charlotte home price index surpassed its August 2007 high of 135.88 in March, climbing to 136.76. In April, it climbed another 1.65 percent to 139.02. Case-Shiller National Home Price Index was up 1 percent month over month.

Post-housing bubble, Charlotte’s index reached a low of 108.39 in January 2012. The index measures the appreciation of a typical home since January 2000.

Charlotte area home prices were up 4.95 percent compared with April 2015. The national index is up 5 percent year over year.

Home prices have also scaled new heights in Dallas, Denver, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, Oregon. While other cities have seen home prices rise at a greater pace than Charlotte, homes in the Queen City have remained did not see prices rise as much during the housing bubble or fall as much during the resulting recession.

Shrinking inventories of homes for sale have boosted prices, while a healthy job market and historically low mortgage rates have kept demand from potential buyers strong during the spring months associated with the highest volume of sales.

The number of listings has fallen 5.7 percent from a year ago, the National Association of Realtors said last week. In the Charlotte metropolitan statistical area, new listings were down 4.35 percent in May from the previous year. Although the inventory of homes for sale has inched up in recent months, it remains near historic lows and was at a three-month supply in May, according to the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association. A six-month supply indicates a balanced market.

Nationally, home prices rose in all 20 major housing markets, with double-digit annual increases in Portland and Seattle.

“While strong price growth in these markets should help increase inventory in the coming months, homes will be significantly less affordable for homebuyers than this time last year,” said Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at the online real estate service Trulia.

Overall home ownership rates have dropped near a 48-year low in the aftermath of the housing bust that began in 2007. But sales have improved as the broader economy has slowly healed.

Sales of existing homes improved 1.8 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.53 million, the best pace since February 2007, according to the Realtors. In Charlotte, April sales rose 11 percent from March.

Providing the foundation for much of that growth has been a solid 4.7 percent unemployment rate that points to a stable period for workers.

Rising prices have also been tempered by low mortgage rates that are holding monthly ownership costs in check.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.56 percent last week. That figure is down from 4.02 percent a year ago and the long-term average of 6 percent.

Associated Press Economics Writer Josh Boak contributed to this report


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