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Originally published December 31, 2013 at 7:40 AM | Page modified December 31, 2013 at 7:42 AM

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Seattle’s housing price gains pause in October

The average price of existing single-family homes in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties was down 0.3 percent in October over September. But home values showed a 13.1 percent gain in October from a year ago.


Seattle Times business reporter

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The Seattle housing market’s momentum paused in October, but that didn’t stop this year’s rebound in prices, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home-price data released Tuesday.

October’s average price of existing single-family homes in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties was down 0.3 percent over September, in line with 17 other metros that saw momentum weaken. But the Seattle market’s home values showed a 13.1 percent gain in October from a year ago, the eighth month in a row the index has shown double-digit annual appreciation.

Nationally, the 20-city index showed U.S. home prices rose 0.2 percent in October from the previous month, after rising 0.7 percent in September. Over the year, U.S. home prices gained 13.6 percent, the highest since February 2006 and the 17th consecutive month of annual gains, according to S&P/Case-Shiller data.

Average U.S. home prices have returned to mid-2004 levels, while prices in the Seattle market are back to late 2005 levels.

While Seattle prices have climbed back, they’re still about 17 percent below their 2007 peak, and the 20-city index, about 20 percent below its 2006 peak.

Thirteen metros saw their annual price gains accelerate in October compared with the previous month, with Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco all posting over 20 percent growth.

Most forecasts suggest home prices will see single-digit growth in 2014, said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

The housing market’s direction in 2014 will be influenced heavily by changes in the Federal Reserve’s policy of “quantitative easing,” a massive bond-buying program it began in late 2008 in a desperate move to stimulate the housing market. The central bank’s moves have allowed homebuyers to lock in the lowest mortgage rates in decades.

“The key economic question related to housing is the Fed’s future course to scale back quantitative easing and how this will affect mortgage rates, Blitzer said in a statement.

Other housing data paint a mixed picture, suggesting that prices may be close to their peak gains. However, other economic data point to somewhat faster growth in the new year. ”

Sanjay Bhatt: 206-464-3103 or sbhatt@seattletimes.com On Twitter @sbhatt



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