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The costs of either renting or buying a home have risen over the past couple of years and the steady increase is becoming a larger percentage of the Consumer Price Index.

The Consumer Price Index is a gauge of the costs paid by consumers for goods and services such as housing, food, transportation and medical care, and it tracks how those change over time. 

Housing costs rose by 0.4% from November and December, following a 0.5% increase in the previous month.

The cost of housing is already the largest component of the CPI and remains an issue, with rental prices rising and the sales prices of both new and existing homes skyrocketing. 

Inflation is becoming an even larger concern for many Americans who are already saddled with debt from credit cards and student loans. Consumers are now facing a longer period of housing inflation along with higher food and health care costs. 

The housing portion the CPI could rise even further since it often is a lagging indicator by a year or two, Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont, told MarketWatch.

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The rapid rise in home prices that started during mid 2020 appeared only in the CPI during the past few months.

Christophe Barraud, chief economist strategist at Market Securities France SA, estimates that rental prices reached their peak in December 2021, so the shelter component of the CPI could rise through August, according to MarketWatch.

The shelter CPI index is "still playing catch up" since leases reset once a year typically and people are moving back to cities, said Katherine Judge, director and senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets.

Another factor that could impact housing prices are plans the Federal Reserve has to increase the federal funds interest rate three times in 2022. 

Mortgage rates have started to rise slowly even though the Fed funds rate does not impact them directly. The 10-year Treasury note and long-term bond yields impact mortgage rates, but the interest rate hikes impact the outlook of investors and indirectly has an effect on whether mortgage rates will rise or decline. 

While inflation rates reached 7% in 2021, the central bankers have indicated they are taking two steps to impact the economy: reducing its balance sheet and increasing rates.