S&P/Case-Shiller Index shows some improvement

The S&P/Case-Shiller Index, a leading indicator of U.S. housing prices, showed a 0.9% rise in home prices in July 2011 compared with the previous month for both its 10- and 20-city composites. This is the fourth consecutive month of increases for both indices. 

In July 2011, the 10- and 20-City Composites recorded annual returns of -3.7% and -4.1%, respectively. 

Seventeen of the 20 MSAs and both composites posted positive monthly increases; Las Vegas and Phoenix were down over the month, and Denver was unchanged.

On an annual basis, 18 of the 20 MSAs in the indices were down in July 2011 versus the same month last year. After three consecutive double-digit annual declines, Minneapolis improved marginally to a decline of 9.1%, which is still the worst of the 20 cities. Detroit and Washington, D.C., were the two MSAs that posted positive rates of change, up 1.2% and 0.3%, respectively. 

"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. “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. The exceptions were Las Vegas and Phoenix, where prices fell, while Denver was flat. The better news is that 14 of 20 cities and both composites saw their annual rates of change improve in July.

“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. 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.”