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Home price gains slow down for the first time since May 2020

Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Home prices are still considerably higher than they were a year ago, when the pandemic caused a massive run on housing, but the gains are finally starting to ease up.

Home prices rose 19.5% in September year over year, down from a 19.8% annual gain in August, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index. That is the first decrease in the annual gain since May 2020.

The 10-city composite rose 17.8% from a year ago, down from an 18.6% gain in August. The 20-city composite gained 19.1% year-over-year, down from 19.6% in the previous month.

Cities with the highest price increases were Phoenix, Tampa, and Miami. Phoenix prices were up 33.1% year-over-year, Tampa up 27.7% and Miami up 25.2%. Six of the 20 cities reported higher price increases in the year ending September 2021 versus the year ending August 2021.

Chicago, Minneapolis and Washington D.C. saw the smallest annual price gains, but the gains were all still over 10%.

“If I had to choose only one word to describe September 2021’s housing price data, the word would be ‘deceleration,’ says Craig Lazzara, managing director at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Housing prices continued to show remarkable strength in September, though the pace of price increases declined slightly.”

Extremely tight inventory, as well as heavy investor activity in the housing market, is keeping prices elevated. While the gains are falling, it is unlikely that prices will drop dramatically as they did during the housing crash. The fundamentals of supply and demand still favor an expensive market.

“The market has cooled since the beginning of the year, when dozens of competing bids, contingency waivers and price escalation clauses made home shopping a struggle, especially for first-time buyers. A growing number of homeowners are preparing to list in the next six months, hinting at an uncharacteristically active winter season,” said George Ratiu, manager of economic research at Realtor.com.

Rising mortgage rates are also playing into prices. The average rate on the 30-year fixed fell to a recent low of 2.78% at the start of August, according to Mortgage News Daily, and then began rising steadily. It ended September at 3.15%.

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