Brighter picture on housing from Case-Shiller

Home prices across the nation rose for the second month in a row, according to the S&P/Case Shiller Index, a closely watched indicator for the housing market. The average price of single-family, residential homes in the United States increased by 2.2% in May 2012 compared with the previous month for both the 10- and 20-city composites. On an annual basis, both composites and 17 of the 20 MSAs saw increases in May compared with April 2011. The exceptions were Boston, Charlotte and Detroit.

Taking the longer view, average home prices across the United States in May 2012 are back to their spring 2003 levels for the 20-city composite and summer 2003 levels for the 10-city composite.

“We have observed two consecutive months of increasing home prices and overall improvements in monthly and annual returns,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “However, we need to remember that spring and early summer are seasonally strong buying months, so this trend must continue throughout the summer and into the fall.”

Phoenix posted the best annual return again this month. Average home prices in that region were up 11.5% versus May 2011. Although prices are still more than 50% below their June 2006 peak, the past five months have been positive for that market, according to the report. Las Vegas posted a positive monthly change in May and saw an improvement in its annual return. But the market is still more than 60% below its August 2006 peak.