Numbers Count: Weekly mortgage data highlights

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Numbers count. They matter to bankers and to prospective homebuyers, sellers, and real estate professionals. Here’s my take on the key numbers on the housing market this week.

The numbers: Home price slowdown

View of family from rear (mom, dad, two young boys) in driveway of a house for sale.The rise in home prices continued to slow in September, according to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices released Nov. 25. Home prices are still rising, just at a slower pace than in 2013 and early this year. Case-Shiller’s 10-city composite climbed 4.8% year-over-year in September, down from 5.5% in August, and the 20-city composite increased 4.9% year-over-year versus 5.6% in August.

What counts: Relatively stable home prices and relatively low interest rates of around 4% on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage are a positive combination for prospective homebuyers. Moderate appreciation is generally a good thing for the housing market. Investors and speculators tend to look for rapidly rising markets. So in this current market there may be fewer investors bidding up prices on homes, giving buyers looking for a home in which to live better odds of getting into their dream home.

Keep in mind this combination of moderate appreciation and low rates may not last forever. As the economy strengthens, the outlook is for interest rates to rise gradually in coming months, according to many economists, including our own Scott Anderson. A stronger economy may push home prices higher as well.

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