U.S. home price growth ended 2018 on a low note — marking nine straight months of a slowdown.
Standard & Poor’s said Tuesday that its S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index posted a 4.7% annual gain in December, down from 5.1% in the previous month. It is the lowest level since September 2015. The 20-City Composite posted a 4.2% annual gain, missing analysts’ estimates of 4.5%. The 20-City Composite is down from 4.6% in November.
“The annual rate of price increases continues to fall,” said David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, in a press statement. “A decline in interest rates in the fourth quarter was not enough to offset the impact of rising prices on home sales. The monthly number of existing single-family homes sold dropped throughout 2018.”
Existing home sales continued to slide in 2019. During the past 12 months, sales have plunged 8.5%, according to the National Association of Realtors. Sales of existing homes declined to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.94 million in January — the slowest sales rate since November 2015. The dip was attributed to ongoing affordability issues.
“Even at the reduced pace of 4.7% per year, home prices continue to outpace wage gains of 3.5% to 4% and inflation of about 2%,” said Blitzer.
Separately, the U.S. Commerce Department said Tuesday that housing starts fell 11.2% in December from the previous month to its lowest level since September 2016. The dip indicates that developers expect fewer new homes will be sold this year. Housing starts have plummeted 10.2% over the past year.
Fastest price growth remains in Vegas
Las Vegas ended 2018 leading the 20-City Composite posting a 11.4% annual increase. Sin City has led in terms of annual price growth since June, when it dethroned Seattle. Phoenix followed Vegas recording an 8% increase from November.
“These are a reminder of how prices rose and collapsed in the financial crisis 12 years ago,” said Blitzer, referring to Vegas and Phoenix. “Despite their recent gains, Las Vegas and Phoenix are the furthest below their 2006 peaks of any city followed in the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller.”
Amanda Fung is an editor at Yahoo Finance.