Home Prices Up, But Still Time for Buyers

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If you’re thinking of buying a house—you may want to act on that soon. Figures just out for the month of September show U.S. home prices rose for the sixth month in a row.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite saw a 0.3% increase, pushing home prices to the highest level they’ve seen in two years. That 0.3% bump comes on the heels of a 0.8% boost in August.

Housing prices up, despite seasonal cycle

Despite the fact that the housing market is entering its typical seasonal doldrums, the market, overall, is bucking the trend and continuing to improve.

An improvement in prices occurred in 13 of the 20 cities indexed, with Las Vegas and San Diego leading the charge—with each increasing 1.4% from the previous month. Meanwhile, Cleveland bottomed out the list with a decline of 0.9%.

While individual cities’ home pricing varies, this latest report follows on further evidence of a housing market rebound. Recent gains have been seen in construction starts, home-builder sentiment, and existing-home sales.

Some experts suggest this data, when taken together, could indicate the struggling U.S. housing market may have finally turned the corner and started a legitimate recovery.

Housing market improving, but would-be buyers still have time to act

At the same time, economists at the Federal Housing Finance Agency—which regulates mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae—caution there are still some strong headwinds the housing sector will have to fight through before enjoying a turnaround.

High unemployment, stagnant income, and concerns about the larger economy could be holding the housing market down.

Of course, for folks thinking about buying a home in the near future—but not ready right now—that could actually be good news.

As prices increase along with demand, it’s entirely logical that many buyers could rush to snap up the best deals while they last. But with these macro-economic concerns, the chances of a suddenly re-inflating housing bubble seem manageably low.

That means, if you see yourself in the market for a house soon, now is a good time to get your ducks in a row. Are your credit reports and scores in good shape? (Do you know?) Have you been saving up for a down payment? Have you recently applied for new lines of credit that could artificially depress your scores at the wrong moment?

While home prices are going up, you haven’t run out of time to find some the best values in housing the nation has seen in generations.


Will you be ready to put in an offer on your dream home when the time comes?