Thursday November 26th, 2015 9:50PM

Home prices rise at slower rate; consumer confidence up

By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. home prices rose in March, but the gains are decelerating as fewer Americans can afford to buy. Meanwhile, a separate report shows that consumer confidence is up.<br /> <br /> The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 12.4 percent in March compared with 12 months earlier. While healthy, that rate of growth has slowed from both February and January.<br /> <br /> Home prices rose in 19 of the 20 cities in March compared with the previous month, with only New York registering a slight decline, Standard & Poor's reported Tuesday. Leading the gains was San Francisco with a 2.4 percent monthly increase, while prices in Seattle, another hub for technology firms, rose 1.9 percent.<br /> <br /> The housing market has struggled in recent months, after notching strong growth in the first half of 2013.<br /> <br /> Rising prices and higher interest rates beginning in the middle of last year made homes less affordable for would-be buyers.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, a limited supply of homes is available to buy. New construction has focused increasingly on rental apartments, instead of single-family homes. And 9.7 million Americans are stuck in homes worth less than their mortgage debts, making them reluctant to sell, according to the real estate data firm Zillow.<br /> <br /> The price gains over the past 12 months were the "result of a witch's brew," said Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow. It was made possible by the lows of the housing bust that began in 2007, the historically low mortgage rates and a limited supply of homes on the market.<br /> <br /> "These influences are beginning to fade, and we're already seeing a monthly slowdown in home prices in more recent data," Humphries said.<br /> <br /> Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said the monthly gains reported by the Case-Shiller index seem excessive.<br /> <br /> "Every indicator of housing market activity and prices we know is slowing or falling outright," Shepherdson said.<br /> <br /> The index is not adjusted for seasonal variations, so the gains can reflect the warmer weather after a harsh winter.<br /> <br /> Tampa showed the largest slowdown in annual price gains. Its growth rate went from 13.4 percent year-over-year in February to 10.7 percent in March. Las Vegas and San Francisco posted the strongest year-over-year growth.<br /> <br /> Home sales and construction started recovering about two years ago from the Great Recession. But a sharp jump in mortgage rates last spring caused sales of existing homes to start falling in the summer.<br /> <br /> Average rates for fixed, 30-year mortgages last week are 4.2 percent, compared to 3.51 percent a year ago.<br /> <br /> The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that existing homes sold in April at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.65 million, a 6.8 percent decrease over the past 12 months.<br /> <br /> The Case-Shiller index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. The index measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The March figures are the latest available.<br /> <br /> CONSUMER CONFIDENCE UP<br /> <br /> U.S. consumers were slightly more confident in the economy in May than in April, partly because they are more optimistic about future hiring and income gains.<br /> <br /> The Conference Board says that its confidence index rose to 83 from 81.7 in April, which was revised lower. That's the second-highest reading since January 2008, just after the Great Recession began. Only March was higher at 83.9.<br /> <br /> But the index still isn't back to healthy levels. It regularly topped 90 before the recession.<br /> <br /> Just over one-fifth of Americans expect their incomes to grow over the next six months, according to the survey, the highest level since December 2007.<br /> <br /> Consumer sentiment is a closely watched figure, as consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the nation's economic activity.
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 10 months ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 10 months ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 10 months ago )
U.S. News
State DOT awards $48M contract for NE Ga. road project
The state Department of Transportation has awarded a $47.8 million contract for nine miles of work on a northeast Georgia road.
9:37AM ( 10 months ago )
Business News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 10 months ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 10 months ago )
Maysville man dies from Banks County wreck
The Georgia State Patrol reports that alcohol and/or drugs were factors a single-vehicle wreck that claimed the life of a Maysville man in Banks County Tuesday night.
11:07AM ( 10 months ago )
Local/State News
White House undergoes Thanksgiving Day lockdown after man draped in American flag jumps fence
WASHINGTON (AP) — A man draped in an American flag climbed over the fence at the White House on Thursday, prompting a lockdown as the first family celebrated Thanksgiving.The man was immediately appre...
8:53PM ( 57 minutes ago )
Obama grants reprieve to turkeys 'Honest' and 'Abe' during White House ceremony
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama spared two turkeys named for one of the nation's most admired presidents, continuing a White House tradition that provides a refreshing sense of amusement and...
9:18PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: UN Security Council strongly condemns 'horrifying' attack in Mali, urges probe
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — The latest on the attack on a hotel in the Malian capital of Bamako. (All times local):___4:55 a.m.The U.N. Security Council is condemning "the horrifying terrorist attack" at the...
10:58PM ( 5 days ago )
World leaders vow vigorous response to Paris terror spree, but little indication of next steps
ANTALYA, Turkey (AP) — World leaders vowed a vigorous response to the Islamic State group's terror spree in Paris as they opened a two-day meeting in Turkey on Sunday, with President Barack Obama call...
2:14PM ( 1 week ago )
Rash of E. coli cases in Pacific Northwest highlights problem of foodborne illnesses
SEATTLE (AP) — As Chipotle prepares to reopen its restaurants in the Pacific Northwest this week after an E. coli outbreak that sickened about 45 people, health experts say foodborne illnesses are mor...
1:40AM ( 2 weeks ago )