Home prices show signs of topping out

CNNMoney.com

Home prices are showing signs of topping out: The S&P/Case-Shiller index posted its first month-over-month decline in 10 months on Tuesday.

The annual measure of home prices still increased 13.7% in November, but that was only narrowly better than the rise posted in October.

The housing recovery was one of the stronger aspects of the economy last year, boosting household wealth and home construction.

But with mortgage rates climbing steadily since hitting record lows in May, it's clear the housing recovery is starting to lose some steam.

"While housing will make further contributions to the economy in 2014, the pace of price gains is likely to slow during the year," said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

The Case-Shiller index chronicles prices across the nation's 20 largest metropolitan areas. Fourteen of those markets posted double-digit percentage gains over the last year, but only nine posted any month-over-month gain.

The improvement in housing was driven by pent-up demand for home purchases, combined with lower unemployment and a drop in foreclosures. Mortgage rates have been climbing steadily of late but remain low by historical standards, making housing prices far more affordable than they were at the height of the bubble last decade.

National prices are still nearly 20% below peak levels reached in mid-2006, according to Case-Shiller.

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