Home Prices Post Sharpest Rise In Seven Years In March

The American housing market posted its largest gains in seven years in March, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller housing price index released Tuesday. All 20 cities the index measures posted gains from the same point last year, led by Phoenix, where prices rose by 22.5 percent in the previous 12 months.

As this chart from Quartz shows, the Case-Shiller index has shown a steady gain in home prices across the country over the last year, as the market continues to rebound after bottoming out during the housing bust that sparked the Great Recession and dragging along in the years since:

The gains come for a variety of reasons, according to economists and analysts, who largely pegged the rises on the limited supply of homes available on the market. That supply is limited in part by the number of homeowners who remain underwater, owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. Rising prices could alleviate some of those problems while also pushing more homeowners to put their houses up for sale and encouraging builders to begin construction on new houses, analysts said.

But even as the market improves, the news isn’t all good: Americans across the country are still struggling with foreclosures, underwater homes, and reduced wealth that came from losing their homes during the crisis. The big banks that played a hand in creating the bubble that burst and sparked the crisis, meanwhile, have successfully gamed settlements with the federal government that were supposed to hold them accountable and managed to avoid prosecution for their actions. That has led senators from both parties to call on regulators and prosecutors to get tougher on banks on behalf of homeowners.