Real Estate

Home prices jump in March: S&P/Case-Shiller

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Robert Shiller: Mortgage rates may spur market

U.S. single-family home prices rose in March, a closely watched survey said Tuesday, as the housing market extended its fragile recovery.

The S&P/Case-Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas rose 0.9 percent in March on a seasonally adjusted basis, up from the prior month's gain of 0.8 percent. A Reuters poll of economists had forecast a 0.7 percent rise.

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Year over year, the index jumped 12.4 percent, S&P/Case-Shiller said, a slightly slower rate than February's 12.9 percent surge but well above Wall Street's estimates. Still, economist Robert Shiller told CNBC, "it's not a big slowdown" even if the reasons behind it are tough to pinpoint.

"I'm a little puzzled by it, but it isn't a big change. Mortgage rates are down, and that ought to be spurring the market a little bit, but it's not a big change this month," said the Nobel Prize-winning economist who is co-creator of the index.

"The market is still on the up, at least looking at price data," he said on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street." "You know, there's always been a lot of momentum in the housing market, and it still looks up and it still looks optimistic."

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Yet not all the news was encouraging. David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P, said that the report suggested price gains are moderating. Additionally, key markets such as Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Francisco are showing "substantial slowdowns," he added.

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"Annual price increases for the two composites have slowed in the last four months and 13 cities saw annual price changes moderate in March," Blitzer said in a statement. "The National Index also showed decelerating gains in the last quarter."

By CNBC staff. Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

CORRECTION: This version corrected to show the data were from March.