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Housing Market Plateaus in January

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Housing Market Plateaus in JanuaryThe national housing market has improved considerably over the past year, but those steps forward appear to have stalled a little in the first month of 2013.

While improvements on a semi-annual and yearly basis were still strong, there was no improvement in home prices across the country between December and January, according to the latest Home Data Index Market Report released monthly by the Clear Capital. In all, January saw 0.9 percent quarterly growth, the same number observed in December, but still considerably higher than at the same time last year, when prices were down 1.6 percent. Prices now stand at 2.8 percent more than they were six months ago.

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Free Credit Check & MonitoringIn all, home prices are up 5.4 percent on an annual basis, driven largely by gains of 12.9 percent in the Western region, though there were at least marginal improvements in the Midwest, South and Northeast, too, the report said. The smallest improvements came in the Midwest region, where quarterly growth stood at just 0.2 percent, compared to 0.6 percent in the Northeast, 0.7 percent in the South, and 2.1 percent in the West. In the Midwest, semi-annual growth was just 1.1 percent, and the annual increase was 2.7 percent.

“Home price trends in January remained solid overall, considering we are in the middle of the toughest time of year for real estate,” said Dr. Alex Villacorta, director of research and analytics at Clear Capital. “We saw quarterly trends continue to soften, while yearly gains strengthened, suggesting the budding recovery is not immune to the slower winter season. What remains to be seen is if home prices will continue to rise, or remain stable through the winter. Regardless of what trends play out in the near term, we expect home prices to continue on a positive trajectory long term.”

The Midwest was also home to a number of the nation’s most struggling markets, the report said. The two worst performers — Milwaukee and Columbus — saw quarterly values decline 1.1 and 0.6 percent, respectively, in January, though both were still up on an annual basis, by 5.5 and 1.2 percent.

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Experts believe home values will continue to rise at least through the end of the year, if not into 2014, as more buyers move to take advantage of low mortgage rates and drive up demand.

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