Cleveland-area house prices are rising faster, but they’re still at 2004 levels (interactive graphics)

April 24, 2018 GMT

Cleveland-area house prices are rising faster, but they’re still at 2004 levels (interactive graphics)

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- House prices in Northeast Ohio are rising at a faster clip, but they’re still struggling to reach their pre-recession levels.

A Tuesday report showed that prices in the Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor area were up 4.1 percent in February, when compared with a year before. That annual growth rate sped up from January but continued to lag price gains in most other major cities, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices.

Across the country, prices were up 6.3 percent in February from a year before. Among the 20 major markets Case-Shiller tracks, only Washington, D.C., up 2.4 percent, and Chicago, up 2.6 percent, trailed Cleveland. Seattle, Las Vegas and San Francisco led the pack.

Employment growth continues to support rising home prices in many cities, said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

“Seattle enjoyed both the largest gain in employment and in home prices over the 12 months ended in February 2018,” he said in a news release. “At the other end of the scale, Chicago was ranked 19th in both home price and employment gains; Cleveland ranked 18th in home prices and 20th in employment increases.”

But that correlation doesn’t hold everywhere. Price growth is Los Angeles and San Francisco is sharper than hiring numbers would indicate, while Miami’s employment growth isn’t showing up as much in house prices, Blitzer said.

In the Cleveland area, average sale prices for houses are comparable to what they were 14 years ago, in spring of 2004. The local index still is down 4.6 percent from its mid-2006 peak, according to the Case-Shiller data.

Average home prices across the 20-city index, meanwhile, have returned to winter 2007 levels. And nationwide prices are up 6.7 percent when compared with their pre-recession highs.

Case-Shiller offers one broad view of housing trends, based on repeat sales of single-family homes. The data are updated monthly and carry a two-month delay. They’re not necessarily a reflection of what’s happening with every house, on every street, in every neighborhood.

Local and statewide housing reports also show continued price growth, as buyers spar over scarce listings.

“Competition is fierce, offer windows are short and tensions will inevitably run high for many buyers as the spring shopping season unfolds,” Svenja Gudell, chief economist for real estate data company Zillow, said in an emailed statement.

“More inventory is the one cure sure to take this edge off, and there are some faint signals in more recent data that a shift may be coming - inventory of existing homes has risen for the past three months, and construction activity is at its highest point in a decade,” she said. “But buyers in the market now shouldn’t hold their breath.”