Economy Watch: Zillow Reports Higher Home Values

Zillow reported on Tuesday that its Home Value Index was up 6 percent year-over-year in July, to a value of $161,600.

Zillow reported on Tuesday that its Home Value Index was up 6 percent year-over-year in July, to a value of $161,600. That’s the first time, at least according to the home value data specialist, that home values have appreciated at an annual pace of 6 percent or higher since August 2006, and another bit of evidence that the U.S. residential market has indeed founds its legs.

July also marked the 14th straight monthly home value appreciation, according Zillow. Home values were up 0.4 percent in July compared with June.

“After three straight months of annual home value appreciation above 5 percent, the U.S. housing market recovery has proven it is on very sound footing,” Zillow chief economist Stan Humphries noted in a press statement. “We have entered a new phase in the recovery when we can begin to turn away from ugly recent history and turn toward what the housing market of the future will look like and how it will act.”

Economic activity still historically low

The Chicago Federal Reserve said that its National Activity Index (CFNAI) edged up to –0.15 in July from –0.23 in June, which means that economic activity is still below its historic trend, but not quite as far below in July as the month before.

The index’s less jumpy three-month moving average, known as CFNAI-MA3, increased to –0.15 in July from –0.24 in June, marking its fifth consecutive reading below zero. Still, it was an improvement for the index, which has been hovering around zero since the recession ended. The all-time low for the CFNAI-MA3 was a little lower than –4 in early 2009. The only time it had even come close to that kind of trough before was during early 1975.

According to the Fed, the index is a weighted average of 85 indicators of national economic activity from four categories of data: production and income; employment, unemployment and hours; personal consumption and housing; and sales, orders and inventories. Zero indicates that the national economy is expanding at its historical trend rate of growth, which negative values mean below-average growth, and positive values point to above-average growth.

Wall Street ended the day mixed on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 7.75 points, or 0.05 percent. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, however, were up to 0.38 percent and 0.68 percent, respectively.