By Steve Cook
RISMEDIA, June 30, 2011—S&P/Case-Shiller’s 10- and 20-city composites rose less than one percent in April over March, the first price increase the indices have measured in eight months.
Data through April 2011, released recently by S&P Indices for its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices show a monthly increase in prices for the 10- and 20-City Composites for the first time in eight months.
Case-Shiller prices still are significantly lower than they were a year ago. The 10-City Composite fell 3.1 percent and the 20-City Composite is down 4.0 percent from April 2010 levels.
Six of the 20 MSAs showed new index lows in April—Charlotte, Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, Miami and Tampa. Thirteen of the cities and both composites posted positive monthly changes. With index levels of 152.51 and 138.84, respectively, both the 10- and 20-City Composites.
“In a welcome shift from recent months, this month is better than last —April’s numbers beat March,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices. “However, the seasonally adjusted numbers show that much of the improvement reflects the beginning of the Spring-Summer home buying season. It is much too early to tell if this is a turning point or simply due to some warmer weather.
“Other housing statistics show the same trends. Single-family housing starts were up in May, but still well below their 2010 levels and still very close to their 30-year low. Existing home sales rose in May, but are still about 15 percent below last year’s pace and about 35 percent below their 2005 pace. While foreclosures remain a large factor in most parts of the country, the S&P/Experian Consumer Credit Default indices show a small decline in the pace of new defaults since last November. Other reports confirm that banks have tightened lending standards in the past year making it harder to qualify for a mortgage despite very low interest rates.
“In the monthly details, we saw home prices increase in April over March. The 10-City was up 0.8 percent and the 20-City rose 0.7 percent. Only seven cities experienced lower prices compared to 18 in March. However, the seasonally adjusted figures saw less dramatic improvement. The annual rate of change for the 10-City remained the same at -3.1 percent; whereas the 20-City fell further from -3.8 percent reported for March to -4.0 percent for April. For a real recovery we would need to see several months of increasing home prices, large enough to shift the annual momentum to the positive side. In short, better news, but still a lot of questions and a long way to go,” says Blitzer.
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