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US house prices increase 4% in April

A sign stands in front of a newly built house in Westwood, Massachusetts, on Sep. 3, 2019. U.S. home prices rose in April for the eighth straight month, even as sales stumbled, a sign that the coronavirus outbreak has had little effect on real estate values. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

A sign stands in front of a newly built house in Westwood, Massachusetts, on Sep. 3, 2019. U.S. house prices rose in April for the eighth straight month, even as sales stumbled, a sign that the coronavirus outbreak has had little effect on real estate values. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

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.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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