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Home Prices Continue to Improve in November

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Annual home price declines were in the single digits in November 2009, as the Standard & Poor’s (S&P)/Case-Shiller home price indices continue a 10-month run of improved results. The monthly indices track existing home prices every month on a year-over-year basis in 20 markets, broken down in 10-city and 20-city composites. The 10-city composite declined 4.5% and the 20-city composite declined 5.3% in November 2009 compared to November 2008. As seen in the chart above, the November declines in the 20 metro areas and both composites were lower than their respective annual declines in October. But only five markets experienced price increases from October to November. “While we continue to see broad improvement in home prices as measured by the annual rate, the latest data show a far more mixed picture when you look at other details,” said S&P’s index committee chairman David Blitzer. Four markets — Charlotte, Las Vegas, Seattle and Tampa — posted the lowest index levels in four years. In other words, Blitzer said, any gains those markets experienced in recent months are erased and November is now considered the current trough value. Other markets show continued price growth throughout 2009. Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego and San Francisco have seen prices increase for at least six consecutive months and Dallas, Denver, San Diego and San Francisco are back in positive annual price change territory, “something we really haven’t seen in at least two years in most markets,” Blitzer said. “While these data do show that home prices are far more stable than they were a year ago, there is no clear sign of a sustained, broad-based recovery,” he added. A second house price index released Tuesday by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) showed national prices increased 0.7% on a seasonally adjusted basis from October to November. The increase comes after October’s previously reported 0.6% increase was revised to 0.4%. For the 12 months ending in November, U.S. house prices rose 0.5%. The U.S. index is 10.3% below its April 2007 peak. The Pacific Census division led all monthly price gains, posting a 2.3% increase, followed by the South Atlantic (2%), Mountain (0.7%), West South Central (0.3%) and East North Central (0.1%). The West North Central division was flat from October, followed by monthly losses in the Middle Atlantic (0.1%), New England (0.3%) and East South Central (0.4%) divisions. Write to Austin Kilgore.

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