Twin Cities house prices eked out a one-percent gain from February to March, but the March figure was 11.5-percent higher than last year, according to the latest Standard & Poors-Case-Shiller Home Price Index, which is often considered a more accurate measure of what's happening in the market because it tracks repeat sales of the same property. The report does not track prices of condominiums, townhouses and rental housing.

While Twin Cities price gains are slowling, the month-to-month gain in the Twin Cities exceeded the a 20-city composite, which showed just a 0.9-percent increase.

“The year-over-year changes suggest that prices are rising more slowly,” says David Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

The Case-Shiller report for March trails our April story based on data from the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, which showed that the median price of all sales during April increased eight percent to $197,00. That data is heavily influenced by the mix of what's selling. In recent months, there have been fewer heavily discounted foreclosures and short sales, but an increase in traditional sales.

The Case-Shiller report shows that 19 of the 20 cities tracked by the composite showed positive returns in March – New York was the only city to decline. Dallas and Denver reached new index peaks.

The markets showing the biggest slowdowns in price gains were also those those that have been more volatile through the most recent boom-bust cycle. That includes Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco and Tampa. Four metro areas are nearing pre-crash highs, including Boston (8 percent), Charlotte (9 percent), Portland (13 percent) and San Francisco (15 percent).

“Housing indicators remain mixed," Blitzer said in a statement. "April housing starts recovered the drop in March but virtually all the gain was in apartment construction, not single family homes. New home sales also rebounded from recent weakness but remain soft. Mortgage rates are near a seven month low but recent comments from the Fed point to bank lending standards as a problem. Other comments include arguments that student loan debt is preventing many potential first time buyers from entering the housing market.”

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