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U.S. home prices rose slightly less than what was anticipated for the month of March, according to new data from the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index. But the gains were enough to reach a 33-month high, climbing at the strongest rate in nearly three years.
The national home price index increased 5.8 percent in March, while analysts were expecting home prices to rise by 5.9 percent for the month, according to Thomson Reuters consensus estimates.
Meanwhile, the widely tracked 20-city home price index rose 5.9 percent from a year ago in March, the most since July 2014.
The latest data released Tuesday shows that home prices continued their impressive rise, across the country, over the past 12 months.
Home prices had hit a record in September, and the pace of growth accelerated ever since then. Among the 20 cities surveyed for this report, Seattle, Portland and Dallas just reported their highest year-over-year gains.
The smallest gain of 4.1 percent was in New York.
"People are staying in their homes longer rather than selling and trading up," David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a statement. "If mortgage rates, currently near 4%, rise further, this could deter more people from selling and keep pressure on inventories and prices."
"While prices cannot rise indefinitely, there is no way to tell when rising prices and mortgage rates will force a slowdown in housing."
The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices is a monthly report published on the last Tuesday of each month and tracks the price path of typical single-family homes located in each metropolitan area provided.