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Home price growth ratchets higher during holiday season

When Americans weren't preparing for the holiday by purchasing items on their loved ones' wish lists, many were buying a new home. However, as with in demand merchandise, house hunters had to stretch their dollar further to get the property they most wanted, according to a newly released update on home price trends in December.

Including distressed sales, home prices nationally rose nearly 6.5 percent in 2015's closing month versus the same period the prior year, data and analytics services provider CoreLogic reported. They also edged higher from November, by a less substantial 0.8 percent.

Frank Nothaft, CoreLogic vice president, indicated that not only have home prices consistently ascended for a long time now, but also showing similarities in the manner they're notching upward.

All real estate is local
"Nationally, home prices have been rising at a 5 to 6 percent annual rate for more than a year," Nothaft highlighted. "However, local-market growth can vary substantially from that."

As an example, Nothaft cited Denver in Colorado and Naples in Florida, each of which has seen double-digit price growth in the last several months. Meanwhile, Louisiana's capital city and Rochester, New York have seen values fall as of late.

Anand Nallathambi, CoreLogic president and CEO, mentioned that the trend has led to increased groundbreaking activity among residential property builders – and not a moment too soon.

"Higher property valuations appear to be driving up single-family construction as we head into the spring," Nallathambi explained. "Additional housing stock, especially in urban centers on the coasts such as San Francisco, could help to temper home price growth in the longer term."

The San Francisco Bay Area has a median single-home value that's cost prohibitive for some, far higher than the countrywide figure. According to the National Association of Realtors, a single-family residence costs almost $225,000. In San Francisco, the median is $282,800, based on Census figures compiled in 2014.

Lending volume slows at January's end
Mortgage volume has been relatively mixed through the first full month of 2016, closing out with a whimper rather than the bang the first week of January. For the seven days ending Jan. 29, loan applications slipped more than 2.5 percent from the immediately prior week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's weekly survey. This is after adjusting for the Martin Luther King Day observance period.

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