California Real Estate Posts Strongest Price Increase in US

Real estate prices continue to rise, and housing markets in the West are leading the way. Some East Coast markets are exhibiting weakness. 

In March, the median sales price for new homes was $247,000, increasing from the previous month’s $226,400, according to the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The average sales price fell, however, to $279,900 from $286,300. 

A forecast from the National Association of Realtors projects that the national median existing-home price will rise about 7.5 percent this year from 2012. 

The trade group said that the national median existing-home price for all housing types was $184,300 in March, rising from $173,000 the previous month. The price was 11.8 percent higher than 12 months prior and up for the 13th consecutive month. 

U.S. home prices increased 1.0 percent between January and February based on Lender Processing Services Inc.’s Home Price Index. That left the index at $210,000. Compared to a year earlier, the index — which represents the price of non-distressed sales by taking into account price discounts for REO and short sales — was up 7.3 percent. 

California and Washington home prices rose 2.2 percent from January — the most of any states in the LPS report. Nine of the 10-strongest metropolitan areas were in the Golden State. Nevada’s 1.8 percent followed, then 1.6 percent in Hawaii and 1.4 percent in Illinois. The only state with a decline was Connecticut: down 0.3 percent.

Half of the top 10 metropolitan markets identified by Pro Teck Valuation Services in its April Home Value Forecast were in California. Two of the worst markets were in Florida, and another two were in Louisiana. 

CoreLogic’s Home Price Index inched up 0.5 percent in February from January and was up 10.2 percent from February 2012. 

Santa Ana, Calif.-based CoreLogic announced that it acquired Case-Shiller on March 20 from Fiserv Inc. for $6 million. 

A seasonally adjusted 0.7 percent increase between January and February was reported for the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s House Price Index. Compared to the same month last year, FHFA’s index was up 7.1 percent. The index stands 13.6 below its April 2007 peak. 

FHFA, which utilizes purchase prices on homes financed with Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loans to determine its index, said that the Middle Atlantic had a 1.9 percent year-over-year increase — the worst of any area. The Pacific was up more than any other area: 15.3 percent. 

Another index, the FNC Residential Price Index, indicated that national home prices increased 0.2 percent from January to February — a 28-month high and the 12th consecutive increase. Compared to a year earlier, the index was up 6.1 percent, “its fastest acceleration since July 2006.” 

Phoenix and Las Vegas had the biggest month-over-month gain of any metropolitan statistical area at 1.9 percent. Phoenix and the biggest year-over-year gain at 29.3 percent, while No. 2 Las Vegas had a 14.5 percent increase from February 2012.