Silver linings seen in housing statistics

Prices of single-family homes across the United States are still falling, but the declines are slowing down, according to one of the leading housing market indictors. Numbers released by Standard & Poor’s showed a 15.4 percent decline in the second quarter of 2008, compared to the same quarter of 2007. The S&P/Case-Shiller Index, which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, also reported annual declines of 17 percent and 15.9 percent, respectively, for its 10-city and 20-city composite price index.

These declines were less than economists had forecast, however. Quarterly figures for nationwide home prices showed a 2.3 percent drop in the three months through June from the previous three months, compared with a 6.8 percent decline in the first quarter of 2008.

“While there is no national turnaround in residential real estate prices, it is possible that we are a seeing some regions struggling to come back, which has resulted in some moderation of price declines at the national level,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor’s, in a prepared statement.

Las Vegas remains the weakest real estate market in the country, according to the report, closely followed by Miami and Phoenix. For the month of June, Denver and Boston were the best performing markets; each city had three consecutive months of sales gains. Charlotte and Dallas recorded four straight months of positive returns, according to the index.