Homebuyers Tax Credit Helps Home Prices Increase During May

Home prices improved in 15 of 20 areas across the country during May according to S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices data released last week.

The 10-City Composite is up 5.4% and the 20-City Composite is up 4.6% from where they were in May 2009.

“While May’s report on its own looks somewhat positive, a broader look at home price levels over the past year still do not indicate that the housing market is in any form of sustained recovery,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor’s. “Since reaching its recent trough in April 2009, the housing market has really only stabilized at this lower level. The two Composites have improved between 5 and 6% since then, but this is no better than the improvement they had registered as of October 2009. The last seven months have basically been flat.”

“In addition, there may still be some residual impact from the homebuyers’ tax credit, since they affect any purchase that closes through June 30th 2010. We need to watch where the housing markets will go after these temporary stimuli go away. June’s existing and new home sales and housing starts data do not show much real improvement in those statistics either. It still looks possible that the housing market might bounce along the bottom for the foreseeable future, before showing any real improvement that will filter through to the rest of the economy.”

In May, Las Vegas posted a new index low as measured by the current housing cycle, where it peaked in August 2006. The peak-to-trough figure is -56.4%, with that market generally returning any gains it had posted since 2000. Detroit is the only market that is worse off. Its index is at levels last seen in late 1994, indicating that any appreciation in value during the past 15 years is now gone.

The Wall Street Journal published an interactive chart showing the latest data here.

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