Home prices slow gains in April

Home prices nationwide are slowing their gains, according to new data released Tuesday.

In 20 cities nationwide, home prices were up in April from the year prior by just 10.8 percent, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, compared to 12.4 percent yearly gains in March. Nineteen of those cities saw the rate of increase decline from the month before. Only Boston reported stronger year-over-year gains, while California home price gains dropped by about three percentage points.

“Overall, prices are rising month-to-month but at a slower rate,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

However, Blitzer also noted that on a month-to-month basis, home price gains appear strong, climbing 1.1 percent from March. And economic conditions are present for further gains in the near term, with mortgage rates lower than a year ago and the Federal Reserve still keeping rates near zero. The problem becomes enticing more first-time homebuyers into the market, which is further complicated by ongoing challenges qualifying for mortgages under tight lending standards.

“The question is whether housing will bounce back before the Fed begins to tighten sometime next year,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Federal Housing Finance Agency reported Tuesday that home prices were actually flat from March to April, and home values were up just 5.9 percent from a year ago.