For sale signs in California. Photo via Wikimedia Commons
For sale signs in California. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Home prices increased more in San Diego than in any other major metropolitan area in January, according to the widely-followed Case-Shiller Index.

Prices increased 0.8 percent from December to January as the rate of increase nationally set a 31-month high. Seattle came in second at 0.6 percent.

“Housing and home prices continue on a generally positive upward trend,” said David M. Blitzer, managing director at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “While prices vary month-to-month and across the country, the national price trend has been positive since the first quarter of 2012.”

The big increase in San Diego followed a smaller 0.2 percent rise in December. Though San Diego’s January increase led the nation, the cumulative rise over the past 12 months was 5.7 percent, a little lower than the national average of 5.9 percent.

The online real estate firm Zillow said there is pent-up demand that is likely to push prices still higher in coming months.

“Today’s Case-Shiller data showed continued growth in home prices, but don’t account for the millions of home shoppers nationwide who pushed the start of their home shopping efforts into February and early March, hoping to get a jump on their competition in the face of persistently low inventory,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. “By now, the familiar dynamics driving the U.S. housing market to new heights — namely, high demand from home buyers and limited supply of homes for sale — are well-entrenched, and the next few months look to be as competitive and fast-moving as ever.”

Blitzer said prices will eventually level off as buyers are forced out of the market, but “we we don’t appear to be there yet.”

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.