Case-Shiller home prices are on the climb, posting a third straight 0.9 percent monthly gain for the 20-city adjusted index. This is the strongest run in nearly 4 years. Year-on-year appreciation is up 2 tenths to 5.7 percent for the highest rate in 2-1/2 years.
Once again the strength is being led by what have been the lagging cities. Chicago, up 1.3 percent in January's data, is on a strong 4-month run as is Washington DC, up 1.0 percent in the month. New York, up 0.7 percent, is on a strong 3-month run but still trails in last for the year-on-year rate, at plus 3.2 percent but improving. Western names continue to lead with Seattle out in front at 11.2 percent followed by Portland and Denver at 9.6 and 9.2 percent.
This report contrasts with the FHFA in direction, that is this index is climbing while the latter is slipping. But together, they're both converging on a 6.0 percent rate that in a low inflation economy is very respectable. And the geographic widening in strength is a special plus of this report, one that points to a solid, though not spectacular, contribution from housing. Note that the unadjusted index, which is tracked in this report, rose only 0.2 percent in February reflecting the month's comparatively slow pace of housing activity.
Lack of resales on the market has been keeping home prices firm. The Case-Shiller 20-city index jumped an outsized 0.9 percent in December with year-on-year appreciation rising 4 tenths to 5.6 percent. Forecasters, at a consensus 0.8 percent monthly gain and 5.7 percent yearly rate, are looking for extending strength in the January report in what would contrast with softness for the FHFA house price index.