U.S. Home Price Index Climbs 3.6% in Second Quarter

S&P reports big gains in San Francisco, San Diego, Minneapolis

By Inman News, Tuesday, August 31, 2010.

A quarterly index of national home prices in the second quarter showed improvement from both its first quarter and year-ago figures, according to the latest Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller National Home Price Indices report released today.

The indices, which are based on repeat sales of single-family homes over time, have a base value of 100, with levels above 100 representing the percentage of home-value appreciation since January 2000.

The U.S National Home Price Index rose 3.6 percent year-over-year in the second quarter to 138.03, and rose 4.4 percent from the first quarter of this year.

Meanwhile, the monthly 20-City Composite Home Price Index rose 4.2 percent in June, to 147.97, compared to June 2009. That follows a 4.6 percent year-over-year increase in May.

“After 16 consecutive months of improvement in their annual rates of return, June’s figures were the first to moderate from their prior month’s pace, pointing to a possible deceleration in home-price returns,” the report said.

Fifteen of the 20 metropolitan statistical areas covered by the index saw their home prices rise year-over-year. The index’s month-to-month gain was more modest: 1 percent.

“While the numbers are upbeat, other more recent data on home sales and mortgages point to fewer gains ahead,” said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor’s, in a statement.

“The worry starts when you remember that the homebuyers’ tax credit has expired, foreclosures are still at high levels, and July data on home sales and starts were very, very weak. The inventory of unsold homes and months’ supply data were particularly troubling. If this relative weakness in demand continues, it will likely filter through to home prices in coming months.”

The 20-city composite was down 28.4 percent in June from its peak in June and July 2006.

“Even with concerns about near-term developments, we recognize that the housing market is in better shape than this time last year,” Blitzer said.

“Further, California’s cities have moved from some of the hardest hit to three of the four leading cities based on year-over-year gains. Among the other hard-hit cities, the news is also a bit encouraging — Las Vegas, however, remains among the weaker cities.”

Of the five metro areas that experienced declines in the past year, Las Vegas fell the most in June: -5.2 percent, to 101.77. The other metro areas to see drops were Charlotte, N.C. (-2.7 percent, to 117.24); Seattle (-1.8 percent, to 146.83); Tampa, Fla. (-1.6 percent, to 138.58); and Chicago (-0.1 percent, to 124.9).

San Francisco, San Diego and Minneapolis experienced double-digit year-over-year gains: 14.3 percent, 11.2 percent and 10.7 percent, respectively. San Diego, in particular, posted its 14 straight month of gains, the report said. The index for Los Angeles also rose substantially in June, up 9.2 percent.