By CHRISTOPHER RUGABER
AP Economics Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. house prices gains accelerated in April even as sales have stumbled, a sign the coronavirus outbreak has had little effect on real estate values.
The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city house price index climbed 4% in April above what they were a year earlier, marking the largest gain since December 2018, up from 3.9% in March.
House sales have fallen sharply for three straight months to their lowest annual pace in nearly a decade in May. Yet the supply of available houses for sale has also declined, forcing remaining buyers to bid up prices.
“The price trend that was in place pre-pandemic seems so far to be undisturbed, at least at the national level,” said Craig Lazzara, managing director of S&P Dow Jones Industries. “Prices in 12 of the 20 cities in our survey were at an all-time high in April.”
Sales of existing houses are likely to pick up in coming months, however. A measure of signed contracts to buy houses soared 44% in May, a record increase. And sales of new houses also rebounded in May.
Phoenix posted the biggest price gain with an increase of 8.8% above what it was a year earlier. Seattle followed with 7.3% and Minneapolis with 6.4%. Prices from the Detroit metropolitan area were not included in the 20-city index because of delays at the recording office in Wayne County, which includes Detroit.
The Case-Shiller index is composed of a three-month average of house prices, so this month’s data include figures from February, March and April.