In order to gauge how affordable it is for you to buy a home, you have to factor in a number of different variables. How much money you’ve saved and how much you earn are part of the equation, as are current mortgage rates. But home prices may be the most important factor. Home prices are an easy-to-understand indicator of where things are headed in the housing market and how it might affect your buying options. So what do home prices look like today? Well, one way to get an accurate read of where prices are is to check the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. Considered the leading measure of U.S. home prices, the index has been tracking home values for more than 27 years. According to their latest release, the news is good for prospective buyers. That’s because, while home prices are still increasing, they’re moving higher at a slower and slower pace. Philip Murphy, managing director and global head of index governance at S&P Dow Jones Indices, says the trend is pretty consistent. “Home price gains continued in a trend of broad-based moderation,” Murphy said. “Year-over-year price gains remain positive in most cities, though at diminishing rates of change.” In other words, home price increases are becoming smaller and, as long as mortgage rates remain low, summer home buyers should find affordability conditions favorable.

Home price growth slows for the 13th straight month

Home price gains in the U.S. fell in April — marking the 13th consecutive month of slowing growth.

Standard & Poor’s said Tuesday that its S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index posted a 3.5% year-over-year increase in April, down from 3.7% in March. The 20-City Composite posted a 2.5% gain, down from 2.6% the previous month — the slowest pace since August 2012. Both results met analysts’ expectations.

“Home price gains continued in a trend of broad-based moderation,” said Philip Murphy, managing director and global head of index governance at S&P Dow Jones Indices, in a press statement. “Comparing the YOY National Index nominal change of 3.5% to April’s inflation rate of 2.0% yields a real house price change of 1.5% – edging closer to the real long run average of 1.2%.”

“We expect home price growth to continue in the low single digits for the remainder of the year as inventory rises,” said Ruben Gonzalez, chief economist at Keller Williams, in a statement.

FILE - This Jan. 26, 2016 file photo shows a "For Sale" sign hanging in front of an existing home in Atlanta. Short of savings and burdened by debt, America's millennials are struggling to afford their first homes in the face of sharply higher prices in many of the most desirable cities. Surveys show that most Americans under 35 lack adequate savings for down payments. The result is that many will likely be forced to delay home ownership and to absorb significant debt loads if they do eventually buy. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
A “For Sale” sign hanging in front of an existing home in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

Inventory, the number of homes for sale, which has been a factor in driving home prices up the past few years has been increasing in major markets, indicating that there may be some relief in home prices in the coming months.

Price growth in major markets continues upward but “at diminishing rates of change,” according to Murphy. In fact, in Seattle there was zero price growth in April, compared to a 13.1% annual gain the same month last year. Since June 2018, price growth in Amazon’s home city has been decelerating from its double-digit rates. Las Vegas led the 20-City Composite for 10 straight month posting a 7.1% annual increase.

“The U.S. housing market is showing signs the cool down may end within the next few months… half of the country’s markets are now seeing an increase in home price appreciation from March to April,” said Ralph B. McLaughlin, deputy chief economist and executive of research and insights for CoreLogic, in a statement. “This suggests the great cool down of 2018-2019 might be coming to an end. Coupled with mortgage rates falling to 18-month lows, it seems the housing market frost is poised to thaw quickly this summer.”