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By Alliant Credit Union
Nationwide, U.S. home sale prices increased by 5.0% in December 2014 compared to December 2013, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index. This increase represents 34 months of consecutive year-over-year increases. Excluding distressed sales, home prices increased 4.9% year over year, with every state except Connecticut showing a year-over-year home price increase in December. The states of Colorado, Texas and New York reached new highs in home prices.
Sales of previously-owned homes increased 2.4% in December, according to the National Association of Realtors. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that new home starts were up 4.4%. According to Zillow economist Stan Humphries, the increased housing inventory will make the real estate market more buyer-friendly “after years in which sellers were in the driver’s seat.”
Although the rate of home price increases has decelerated from the double-digit gains seen early in 2014, home prices are still headed in an upward direction. Improving economic trends, especially growth in employment of the Millennial age group – the prime demographic of first-time homebuyers – are seen as indicators of an improving real estate market.
CoreLogic’s 2015 Housing Outlook predicts that home sales will increase by 9% in 2015, with housing starts growing 14% and home price growth moderating, but not ending.