US Home Prices Continue to Climb
US home prices continued to pick up in July, according to a national index of values released Tuesday. The Standard & Poor's / Case-Shiller 20-city home price index showed a 5 percent year-over-year jump, which was slightly higher than the previous month's 4.9 percent increase. The index showed rising prices in each of the 20 cities it tracks, led by a 10.4 percent surge in San Francisco and a 10.3 percent uptick in Denver. Improving wages and a steady economy have convinced more Americans to buy homes, prompting sales to reach an 8-year high in July.
US Housing Starts Surge to 8-Year High
The US Commerce Department reported Tuesday that housing starts surged to a near eight-year high in July as the world's largest economy continues to improve. According to the report, housing starts rose 0.2 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.21 million units. That's the fastest pace of groundbreaking on new homes since October 2007. That marks the fourth straight month in which starts were over the one million unit pace, and was the fastest pace for starts since October 2007. The pace also exceeded the consensus projection from a group of economists in a recent Bloomberg survey, which called for a pace of 1.19 million units. Combined with recent positive readings on jobs, retail sales and manufacturing, Tuesday's report helps paint a picture of a US economy that is finally approaching pre-recession health.
US Home Prices Rise for 35th Straight Month
US home values continued to rise in March, surging 5 percent from the same month a year earlier, according to the S&P.Case-Shiller index of home prices, issued Tuesday. Of the 20 cities tracked by the measure, San Francisco showed the biggest price gains, at 10.3 percent, followed by Denver. The Colorado capital saw prices rise 10 percent from March 2014, narrowly edging out the price growth in the number 3 city, Dallas. Prices also rose from February, edging up 0.8 percent across the 20 cities, and San Frnacisco again led the way with a 3 percent surge in home prices. Home prices have now risen for 35 consecutive months, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index, and each of the 20 cities tracked by the measure have posted year-over-year gains in every month since the end of 2012.
Could Realtor.com Surpass Zillow & Trulia Despite Merger?
When Zillow's merger with Trulia was approved in February, most observers assumed the game was over for smaller competitors in the online real estate industry, as the merger brings together the sector's two biggest players. As evidenced by a string of legal steps taken in the last few weeks, however, competition is still very much alive in the industry thanks to a key strategic advantage held by Realtor.com, the sector's second-largest company after the Trulia acquisition by Zillow. Realtor.com was acquired late last year by News Corp subsidiary Move.com, which also operates a company called ListHub, which currently supplies listings to both Trulia and Zillow. Since the Zillow-Trulia merger was approved, ListHub has decided to let its agreement with Zillow expire in April, and to end an agreement with Trulia early. Trulia asked a court to stop ListHub from pulling its listings, and got a temporary injunction, but the injunction was pulled at a hearing days later.
Zillow Challenged On Accuracy of “Zestimates”
The CBS morning talk show, “CBS This Morning,” addressed a major real estate issue last week when they invited Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff to discuss the company's controversial “Zestimates”, or automated value estimates for homes. With more than 73 million visitors in December alone, Zillow is easily the world's most popular real estate information website. In addition to active listings of properties currently on the market, the site also provides information about homes not for sale. This information often includes square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, photos, property tax information and so-called “Zestimates”.