The cost of purchasing a home, already sky-high, has continued to rise across the country—more than twice as fast as inflation, on average—leaving many to wonder how they could possibly come up with the necessary cash for a down payment. (Is it possible for one to sell both kidneys?)
Home prices were up 5.2% in March compared with the same month a year ago, according to the most recent data from the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. They also climbed 0.7% from February, according to the nonseasonally adjusted numbers in the report (which weren’t smoothed out over a 12-month period).
But the rate of the year-over-year price hikes slowed ever so slightly from 5.3% in February. The report looked only at existing single-family homes and not newly constructed residences.
The price bumps are “a little faster than what we can sustain over the long term,” says David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.
“A 5% annual increase is a little more than twice the rate of inflation,” he says. “Sooner or later the price of housing has to slow down, or else we’re going to price everybody out of the market.”
Prices in Washington, DC; Chicago; New York; and Cleveland didn’t go up quite so much.
The cost of buying a home in the nation’s capital in March was only 1.5% higher than one year earlier, according to the report.
“It makes sense because we had a such strong spring last year,” says Washington, DC–area Realtor® Rachel Valentino, adding that the local housing market has had a strong run over the past few years. “We’re basically right on par where we were this time last year.”
Already-high prices are probably also a factor in the mild appreciation, says Valentino of Valentino’s Associates with Keller Williams. Single-family detached homes as well as row houses within the city limits typically sell for about $750,000 and up, she says.
She expects prices will hold steady during the summer, as the market isn’t as busy when Congress is on break. The uncertainty over which presidential candidate will win the Oval Office may also slow down sales this fall, which is generally a busy time.
Meanwhile, Chicago real estate appreciated at 1.9% year over year, New York at 2.7%, and Cleveland at 2.8%, according to the report.
On the other end of the spectrum, several Western cities saw the biggest annual price hikes (potentially producing a windfall for sellers).
Prices shot up 12.3% annually in Portland, OR, according to the report. The city was followed by Seattle, at 10.8%, and Denver, at 10%.
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