Home Price Decline Narrowing, S&P/Case-Shiller Says

While home prices are still lower than they were last year, the rate of decline has lessened, according to the Standard & Poor’s (S&P)/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, released Tuesday. The 10-city and 20-city composites were 16.8% and 17.1% lower, respectively, in May 2009 compared with May 2008. That’s a slight improvement from April, when the 10-city composite was 16.8% and the 20-city was 18.1% lower than a year earlier. While prices are still down, it’s the fourth consecutive month that the S&P/Case-Shiller report has shown improvement in the rate of year-over-year decline. “To put it in perspective, these [four months of improvement] are the first time we have seen broad increases in home prices in 34 months. This could be an indication that home price declines are finally stabilizing,” S&P index committee chairman David Blitzer said in the report. “While many indicators are showing signs of life in the US housing market…we likely do have a way to go before we see sustained home price appreciation.” After peaking in Q206, home prices have dropped to their mid-2003 level. In 16 of the 20 cities studied for the index, prices are in double-digit decline from last year. The report said Dallas and Denver have both experienced three consecutive months of improved prices, while Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, San Francisco and Washington, DC are in their second consecutive month of improved prices. Write to Austin Kilgore.

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