Charlotte-area home prices rise 2.5 percent

Charlotte-area home prices are still rising – but the pace is still slowing.

Prices in the region climbed 2.5 percent on average in August from the same month a year ago, according to Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller data released Tuesday. Nationwide, prices rose 5.6 percent from a year ago, a composite index of 20 cities showed.

Gains in annual appreciation continue to decline across the U.S., a trend that started late last year. Across the 20 cities, appreciation has now slowed for nine months in a row.

“The deceleration in home prices continues,” David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a statement.

Home prices nationwide have posted sizable gains for the past two years, in part as a lack of new-home construction kept supplies low. Prices have also soared as potential homebuyers look to outbid one another as they compete over low inventories of existing homes for sale.

On Monday, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors said a rise in the supply of homes for sale is preventing annual price gains from returning to the higher rates posted earlier this year. Nationwide, the supply of existing homes for sale increased 6 percent in September from a year ago, said the economist, Lawrence Yun.

In the Charlotte area, appreciation is far below levels from a year ago. In August last year, prices rose 7.3 percent from the same month the year before.

Nationally, home prices rose 0.2 percent in August from July. Charlotte posted a decline of 0.1 percent. It was one of only three cities to report a decrease.

Some economists say the slowdown in price gains is good for the housing market, as the rapid appreciation was making housing unaffordable for some people, such as first-time homebuyers.

On Monday, Yun said mortgage rates are low, which should also help more people afford homes. But, he said, some potential buyers continue to face tight restrictions to obtain mortgages, he said. According to the Realtors association, 15 percent of Realtors who did not close a sale in September blamed inability of buyers to get financing.

In the Charlotte region, prices continue to recover after slumping after the housing bubble burst. August’s prices remain 5.6 percent below their peak in August 2007.

Across the 20 U.S. cities, prices are about 17 percent below their peaks in the summer of 2006.

The widely watched Case-Shiller report tracks only repeat-home sales, omitting the effect of prices from sales of new homes. The report lags by two months.