U.S. home prices rose more than economists estimated in October as rising employment and falling interest rates boosted buyer demand.
Prices climbed 0.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from September, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said in a report from Washington. The average of 21 estimates was for a 0.3 percent increase, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Prices rose 4.5 percent from a year earlier, a streak that dates to June 2012, according to the report. The pace of increases slowed last year after higher prices and a spike in interest rates made housing less affordable.
“The housing recovery has been a bit weaker than many were hoping for this year,” Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist with Capital Economics Ltd., wrote in a note from Toronto. “With mortgage rates starting from very low levels and credit conditions easing, albeit very gradually, the housing recovery should pick up a little more pace in 2015.”
Capital Economics expected prices to rise 0.5 percent in October.
Mortgage rates returned this month to their lowest level since May 2013, when borrowing costs began soaring after the Federal Reserve announced plans to slow purchasing of Treasury Bonds and mortgage-backed securities.
According to the FHFA report, prices rose the most for the month in the East North Central states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, where the increase was 1.1 percent. Prices were up 5.1 percent for the year in the region.
The biggest decline from September was in the Pacific area, including California, with a 0.3 percent drop. For the year, the region was the biggest gainer, with prices up 6 percent from October 2013.
Prices in the Middle Atlantic region of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania fell 0.1 percent for the month and climbed only 0.8 percent for the year, the smallest annual regional increase.
The FHFA index measures transactions for single-family properties financed with mortgages owned or securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The measure, which doesn’t include a median price for transactions, is 5.1 percent below its April 2007 peak and about the same as the September 2005 level.
The median sale price of an existing single-family home in November was $205,300, up 5 percent from a year earlier and down from this year’s high of $222,000, in June, the National Association of Realtors said in a report. Homes sold at an annual pace of 4.93 million, down from October’s pace of 5.25 million and up from 4.83 million a year earlier.
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