Sierra Vista has some of the best housing affordability in the nation, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI). It ranked 11th in the nation in the 4th quarter 2016 Housing Opportunity Index released February 16. Nationally, 59.9% of homes sold in the 4th quarter were affordable for the U.S. median family income. Nearly all Arizona metropolitan areas had a higher share of households affordable to the median income in their area than the U.S.: Sierra Vista-Douglas, 89.2%; Yuma, 79.5%; Lake Havasu City-Kingman, 76.9%; Tucson, 76.1%; Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, 65.4%; and Prescott 53.4%. Flagstaff data were not available for the 4th quarter.
Arizona home prices rose 7.4% between the 4th quarter 2015 and 4th quarter 2016 according to the Federal Housing Finance Authority House Price Index. This was higher than the nation at 6.2% and tenth highest appreciation among the states. Oregon had the highest home price appreciation at 11% followed closely by Colorado (10.6%), Florida (10.4%), and Washington (10.2%). Three states actually had a decline in prices, West Virginia falling the most at -3.4%. Metro area home prices tracked with the All-transactions Home Price Index (which includes both purchase and refinance mortgages) are included in the report. Changes in Arizona metro home prices over the year: Prescott, 6.9%; Phoenix, 6.7%; Tucson, 5.7%; Yuma, 5.5%; Lake Havasu City-Kingman, 4.6%; Flagstaff, 4.6%; and Sierra Vista-Douglas, -1.2%.
There were 4,003 initial unemployment claims in Arizona for the week ending February 11, down 297 from the week prior. The four-week moving average, which smooths out volatility, was also lower at 4,113 compared to 4,281 the week before. Continued claims for Arizona were 5.5% lower than the same time a year ago. Unemployment benefit claims nationally were 241,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week ending February 18, up slightly from the week before. The four-week moving average, however, dropped to 241,000, which continues to be the lowest level since the early 1970’s.
The Consumer Price Index rose 0.6% in January based on the February 15 Bureau of Labor Statistics release. This was the biggest monthly seasonally adjusted increase since February 2013 and was due primarily to gasoline price increases. Higher prices for clothing, airfare, and new vehicles factored in as well. Food prices were unchanged for the month. The annual inflation rate was 2.5% for January.
Producer prices increased 0.6% in January on a seasonally adjusted basis according to the February 14 Bureau of Labor Statistics release. Final demand goods rose 1.0% over the month and final demand services rose 0.3%. The unadjusted 12-month change in producer prices was 1.6%.