Home Prices Hit New Highs in 10 States

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Pending Sales Of U.S. Homes Rose More Than Forecast In February
Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesA new home for sale stands in the Andalucia neighborhood of The Dominion gated community in San Antonio, Texas.
By Diana Olick

A limited supply of listings continues to push home prices higher across the nation -- so much higher that 10 states and the District of Columbia hit new home price peaks in May. Including sales of distressed homes, prices increased 6.3 percent nationally from a year ago, according to CoreLogic (CLGX).

"Mortgage rates on 30-year fixed-rate loans remained below 4 percent through May, helping to fuel home purchase activity," said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. "Our homes-for-sale listing data shows that markets with high demand and limited supply, such as San Francisco, are recording double-digit appreciation rates over the past year."

Thirty-three states are now at or within 10 percent of their price peaks, going back to January 1976, when CoreLogic began tracking. Ten states -- Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Vermont -- reached new price peaks.

These new prices are likely behind a surge in the number of homeowners who think now is a good time to sell. Fifty-two percent of homeowners surveyed by Fannie Mae in June said as much, a new high for the monthly gauge, and the first time that metric surpassed 50 percent. Not surprisingly, the number of those who think it's a good time to buy a house fell to 63 percent, matching a survey low.

%VIRTUAL-pullquote-A complementary rise in the good-time-to-sell measure suggests that limited inventory, which is putting upward pressure on house prices, gives an increasing advantage to sellers.%The share who said they expect home rental prices to go up in the next year also rose to an all-time survey high. The expectation of higher rents is likely due to more new renter households being formed, as more people get jobs and move out on their own, either out of family or group homes.

"A complementary rise in the good-time-to-sell measure suggests that limited inventory, which is putting upward pressure on house prices, gives an increasing advantage to sellers," said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae's chief economist. "Together, these results point to a healthier home purchase market, with more renters likely to find owning to be more cost effective than renting and more sellers likely to put their homes on the market."

Sentiment, however, is one thing; ability is another. More renters may want to become buyers because in the end it is more cost effective, but credit still stands in the way for some. Mortgage credit availability fell in June, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, giving back the gains seen in May.

"Despite recent signs of improvement in housing markets, mortgage credit availability stalled in June," said Lynn Fisher, the association's vice president of research and economics. "Increases driven by higher availability of cash-out-refinance loans were more than offset by reduced availability of other types of loans this month, resulting in a decline in the index from May."

The biggest tightening was seen in the most popular category -- conventional loans, which are those backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That could be due in part to lenders preparing for new regulations going into effect this fall. These rules are designed to create more transparency and accountability in lending.
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