US housing price gains continue in September

Washington (AFP) –


US housing prices continued to rise in September, with solid increases in most major metropolitan areas compared to a year ago, according to data released Tuesday.

The S&P Case-Shiller National Home Price Index hit a record, beating the pre-crisis 2006 peak. The index jumped 5.5 percent compared to September 2015.

Seattle and Portland once again posted double-digit increases from a year earlier, while Dallas, Denver, Tampa and Miami also showed strong gains.

The new peak in the National Index "will be seen as marking a shift from the housing recovery to the hoped-for start of a new advance," said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

The 20-city price index increased 5.1 percent year-on-year in September, the same as in August and just slightly below analyst expectations.

While cities that experienced the biggest booms prior to the financial crisis remain below their peak price levels, seven of the 20 major cities have hit new post-recession peaks, Blitzer said in a statement.

Compared to August, the 20-city index was up 0.4 percent, seasonally adjusted, while the national index rose 0.8 percent, with increases in all 20 cities.

The Federal Reserve is watching the housing market for clues to the health of the economy before it raises interest rates, something it is widely expected to do in December, a year after the only increase post-recession.

Blitzer said the signs are good.

"Sales of existing and new homes are rising and housing starts at an annual rate of 1.3 million units are at a post-recession peak," he said.