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Home-price deceleration is fastest on record as U.S. market cools

Sept. 27, 2022 Updated Tue., Sept. 27, 2022 at 7:08 p.m.

Single-family homes are seen in this aerial photograph taken over a Lennar Corp. development in San Diego on Sept. 1, 2020.  (Bing Guan/Bloomberg)
Single-family homes are seen in this aerial photograph taken over a Lennar Corp. development in San Diego on Sept. 1, 2020. (Bing Guan/Bloomberg)
By Prashant Gopal Bloomberg

The U.S. housing market took a turn in July.

A national measure of prices increased 15.8% year-over-year, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index showed Tuesday. That was the smallest gain since April 2021, and the slowdown from the 18.1% jump in June was the largest deceleration in the history of the index, according to Craig Lazzara, a managing director at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

While prices across the U.S. remain elevated compared to last year, there are signs that higher mortgage rates are cooling the pandemic buying frenzy. On a month-to-month basis, home prices in 20 U.S. cities slipped 0.4% in July, the first monthly decline since 2012.

“The cooling has come hard and fast,” Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpoint, said in a note.

Mortgage rates have doubled this year, putting a chill on the housing market, especially in West Coast cities where affordability was already strained. San Francisco (-3.6%), Seattle (-2.5%) and San Diego (-2%) posted the largest month-over-month declines in July. Prices in New York were flat.

The pandemic set off a real estate boom in the U.S. that was marked by bidding wars and soaring prices. But the market has cooled swiftly in recent months. Listings are lingering longer because demand has collapsed. And less supply is coming into the market, with a recent report from Zillow Group Inc. showing that new listings slid almost 23% in August from a year earlier.

The result is that transactions are tumbling: Sales of previously owned homes fell for a seventh straight month in August, the National Association of Realtors reported last week, reaching the lowest level since the depths of the pandemic in May 2020.

“As the Federal Reserve continues to move interest rates upward, mortgage financing has become more expensive, a process that continues to this day,” Lazzara said in a statement. “Given the prospects for a more challenging macroeconomic environment, home prices may well continue to decelerate.”

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