Home/Mortgages/Home Prices Post Modest Gains in August

October 25, 2011 (Chris Moore)

Home prices in August showed modest improvement as index levels for both the 10- and 20-City Composites increased by 0.2 percent from July to August, the fifth consecutive month of increases according to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

Ten of the 20 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) posted monthly index level increases while only two of the MSAs posted yearly increases. In addition, 16 of the 20 MSAs posted improved annual returns, the difference between year-over-year index levels, as did both the 10-City and 20-City Composites.

Detroit and Washington D.C. were the only two cities to post positive annual returns with index levels in Detroit 2.7 percent higher than a year ago and in Washington D.C. index levels were 0.3 percent higher than a year ago.

“There was some weakness in the monthly statistics, as 10 of the cities post price declines in August over July,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices. “And even though the annual rates are largely improving, 18 MSAs and both Composites are still negative. Nationally, home prices are still below where they were a year ago. The 10-City Composite is down 3.5% and the 20-City is down 3.8% compared to August 2010.”

Washington D.C. posted the largest monthly index increase of 1.6 percent followed by Detroit and Chicago with both posting a monthly increase of 1.4 percent. Atlanta posted the largest monthly index level decline of 2.4 percent followed by Los Angeles at 0.4 percent.

Minneapolis continued to be the worse performing market with a year-over-year index decline of 8.5 percent, but an improvement from 9.1 percent posted last month.

Average home prices across the United States remained at the same levels they were back in the summer of 2003. From their peak in July/August 2006, index levels for the 10-City Composite have declined 30.9 percent, while the index level for the 20 City Composite has fallen 30.8 percent.

Las Vegas continued to be the worse performing market since the market peak, with the index level for the area declining 59.5 percent since July/August 2006.

“In the August data, the good news is continued improvement in the annual rates of change in home prices. In spring and summer’s seasonally strong period for housing demand, we cautioned that monthly increases in prices had to be paired with improvement in annual rates before anyone could declare that the market might be stabilizing. With 16 of 20 cities and both Composites seeing their annual rates of change improve in August, we see a modest glimmer of hope with these data. As of August 2011, the crisis low for the 10- City Composite was back in April 2009; whereas it was a more recent March 2011 for the 20-City Composite. Both are about 3.9% above their relative lows,” Blitzer added.

Tags: S&P, Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, 10-City Composite, 20-City Composite, home prices, positive gains, seasonal trends