National home price appreciation slowed for the fifth straight month in May, continuing a trend that's expected to continue into the summer selling season, according to Clear Capital's Home Data Index Market Report.
National home prices increased 0.9% on a rolling quarterly basis and 9.2% from a year ago in the month of May, the Clear Capital report says. That compares to increases of 0.9% quarterly and 9.7% year-over-year in April. In January, prices rose 1.2% during the rolling quarter and 10.8% annually.
The sluggish price appreciation has created a "decidedly underwhelming season" of spring home sales, Clear Capital says in a press release.
"The rising price floor in the low tier sector of the market has squeezed investor returns, thereby removing a key demand segment. We don't expect to see a large pop in prices through the summer buying season," says Alex Villacorta, vice president of research and analytics at Clear Capital.
"It's likely we'll keep chugging along at our current pace, somewhere around 1% quarterly gains for the rest of the year."
On a more granular, ZIP-code level, home price appreciation varied wildly. In 44 of the nation's top 100 metropolitan markets, the spread of annual price changes was greater than 15 percentage points among the ZIP codes that comprise an individual market.
For example in Cleveland, the top performing ZIP code saw annual prices grow 42.3%, while the weakest ZIP code in Cleveland depreciated 23.3%—creating a spread of 19 percentage points. Even top-performing states of California and Florida reported wide price increase variations at the ZIP code level.
Underwater borrowers, increasing student loan debt, still weak borrower credit and sluggish job growth are all contributing to the slow pace of price appreciation. Still, moderate and steady home price appreciation is a foundation for a healthy housing market and a sign that "price trends are finally calibrating back to pre-bubble norms," Clear Capital says.