Detroit shines in otherwise downbeat housing report

The S&P/Case-Shiller Index, a leading indicator of U.S. housing prices, showed declines in both of its MSA indices for September 2011. The 10-city index dropped 0.4%, and the 20-city index slid 0.6% compared to the previous month.

On a yearly basis, the 10- and 20-city indices were down 3.3% and 3.6%, respectively.

The National Index showed an annual decline of 3.9% for the third quarter of 2011, although an improvement was shown over the 5.8% annual decline posted in the second quarter. Nationally, home prices are back to their first quarter 2003 levels.

Only two cities, Detroit and Washington, D.C., posted positive annual rates of 3.7% and 1.0%, respectively. Detroit has now recorded three consecutive months of positive annual rate.

Atlanta, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Tampa recorded lower annual declines in September compared with August.

“While we have now seen four consecutive months of generally increasing prices, we do know that we are still far from a sustained recovery,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices. “Eighteen of the 20 cities and both composites are showing that home prices are still below where they were a year ago. The 10-city composite is down 3.7%, and the 20-city is down 4.1% compared with July 2010. 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.”