U.S. home prices rose in August as low borrowing costs and sustained job growth fueled demand amid a tight inventory of properties on the market.
Prices climbed 0.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from July, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said Thursday in a report from Washington. The average estimate of 16 economists was for a 0.5 percent increase, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The gain was 5.5 percent from a year earlier.
Values have increased steadily as buyers, bolstered by an improving job market and easing mortgage standards, compete for a limited supply of existing homes. The number of listed properties in August was the second-lowest for that month since 2002, according to the National Association of Realtors.
“House prices have been rising at a fairly slow rate for the past year and a half, and that’s an unusually steady spell,” Andres Carbacho-Burgos, senior economist with Moody’s Analytics Inc., said Wednesday in a telephone interview. “That’s relatively good because it indicates that demand for homes is starting to expand.”
The FHFA’s index is 0.9 percent below its March 2007 peak and about the same as the December 2006 level.
Prices increased from a year earlier in all regions, led by the Pacific area -- including California, Oregon and Washington -- at 7.4 percent. The Middle Atlantic region -- New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania -- had the smallest gain, 2.2 percent.
The gauge measures transactions for single-family properties financed with mortgages owned or securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It doesn’t provide specific prices. The median price of an existing single-family home was $230,200 in August, according to the Realtors group.