Prices climbed 0.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from March, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said in a report Wednesday from Washington. The average estimate of 20 economists was for a 0.6 percent gain, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Values have increased steadily as buyers, bolstered by an improving labor market and easing mortgage standards, battle for a tight supply of homes on the market. Inventory at the end of April was down 3.6 percent from a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors.
“There are still more buyers than sellers out there, and that will tend to push prices up,” Matthew Pointon, U.S. economist for Capital Economics Ltd., said in an interview. “The job market is coming back, mortgage underwriting is gradually loosening and there’s still not much supply.”
Pointon called the less-than-estimated monthly increase in the FHFA index a “soft patch” that isn’t likely to last. “Fundamentals are still there for prices to be rising,” he said.
Prices rose from a year earlier in all regions, led by the Pacific -- including California, Washington and Oregon -- with an 8.6 percent gain. The Middle Atlantic -- - New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania -- had the smallest increase, 1.7 percent.
The FHFA index measures transactions for single-family properties financed with mortgages owned or securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It doesn’t provide specific prices. The national median price of an existing single-family home was $233,700 in April, up 6.2 percent from a year earlier, according to the Realtors group.
U.S. home prices rose 5.9 percent in April from a year earlier as job growth spurred competition for a limited number of listings.