Home-price growth accelerated in January, the latest indication that the U.S. housing market was poised for a strong year of sales before the coronavirus pandemic struck.
The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, which measures average home prices in major metropolitan areas across the nation, rose 3.9% in the year that ended in January, up from a 3.7% annual rate the prior month.
Economists and real-estate executives had expected robust home sales this year due to a strong job market and low mortgage rates. U.S. existing-home sales rose to a 13-year high in February, according to the National Association of Realtors.
But with the pandemic now keeping potential buyers and sellers on the sidelines, experts expect the pace of home sales to sharply decelerate. Capital Economics forecast in March that home sales would drop 35% in the second quarter of 2020 compared with the fourth quarter of 2019.