The Case-Shiller home price index found that house prices declined a bit between November and December, but for 2013 as a whole the index posted a gain of 13.4 per cent — the biggest annual figure since 2005

The widely quoted index tracks home prices in America's 20 largest housing markets. It found that while price gains slowed in the latter part of the year, for the year as a whole the country's housing market appears to be on stronger footing than it's been in a while.

The 20-city index covers about half of the houses in America, and it found that prices increased by 13.4 per cent last year. "However, gains are slowing from month-to-month and the strongest part of the recovery in home values may be over," said David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices​.

The index is built on a baseline of 100 for the year 2000, and tracks gains and declines on a rolling three-month average since then. According to the latest data available, the 20-city figure currently sits at 165.69 — meaning the typical home in America's biggest cities is now work 65 per cent more than it did in the year 2000.

The figures come after other reports show that home sales and construction are slowing. Existing home sales fell 5.1 per cent in January from December to the slowest pace in over a year. Permits for new residential construction and housing starts were both down and below expectations.

On a monthly basis, the Case-Shiller figure shows the recent cold weather snap is taking a toll on the housing market but even cities in warmer areas saw declines. Home prices in Phoenix fell 0.3 per cent, the first drop after 26 months of big increases.

Only six cities recorded higher prices in December: Dallas, Las Vegas, Miami, San Francisco, Tampa, Fla., and Washington, D.C. Despite the monthly drop-off, home prices in all 20 cities rose compared with a year ago.