Home Prices Inch Up, Still a Far Cry From Recovery

Home prices are posting a slight improvement for the fourth month in a row, as both the 10- and 20-City Composites and the majority of metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) posted positive monthly increases, thanks to stronger seasonal demand, shows the July 2011 S&P/Case Shiller Home Prices Indices. Year-over-year, however, home prices are down more than 4%.

“With July’s data we are seeing not only anticipated monthly increases, but some fairly broad improvement in the annual rates of change in home prices,” said David Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices, in a statement. “This is still a seasonal period of stronger demand for houses, so monthly price increases are expected and were seen in 17 of the 20 cities.”

Although both Composites and 14 MSAs saw a monthly improvement in July, compared to June, the 10-City Composite declined 3.7% on a yearly basis, with the 20-City down 4.1%. The data shows most MSAs still lagging behind last year’s levels; only two MSAs, with Detroit up 1.2% from last year, and Washington up 0.3%, showed gain.

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Las Vegas and Phoenix were the only two MSAs to post monthly declines, at 0.2% and 0.1% respectively, and are also down compared to the previous year.

Detroit and Minneapolis showed the biggest monthly improvements, at 3.8% and 2.6% respectively, although Minneapolis is still down 9.1% on a yearly basis.

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Despite these slight improvements, including both the 10- and 20-City Composite indices inching back to their summer 2003 levels, Blitzer cautions that the housing recovery hasn’t quite arrived.

“While we have now seen four consecutive months of generally increasing prices, we do know that we are still far from a sustained recovery. Eighteen of the 20 cities and both Composites are showing that home prices are still below where they were a year ago,” he said. “Continued increases in home prices through the end of the year and better annual results must materialize before we can confirm a housing market recovery.”

Written by Alyssa Gerace

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