U.S. home prices continue to fall, but at a slower pace, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index released today. Prices fell 2.6 percent annually in March to their lowest levels since the housing crisis began in mid-2006. Prices remained basically unchanged since February, but ended down 2 percent for the first quarter and 1.9 percent below where they stood during the first quarter of 2011.
Still, the year-over-year depreciation of home prices is shrinking, according to David Blitzer, chairman of S&P Indices’ Index Committee. “There are some better numbers: Only three cities – Atlanta, Chicago and Detroit – saw annual rates of change worsen in March. The other 17 cities and both composites saw improvement in this statistic, even though most are still showing a negative trend,” he said. “Moreover, there are now seven cities – Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis and Phoenix – where the annual rates of change are positive. This is what we need for a sustained recovery; monthly increases coupled with improving annual rates of change. Once we see this on a broader level we will be able to say the market has turned around.”
Five cities, including New York, hit new lows for home prices, but just seven of 20 markets showed negative annual returns compared to 16 in February. In the New York metropolitan area, prices fell 2.8 percent year-over-year and 0.9 percent month-over-month to reach an index of 157.87, the lowest it’s been since September 2003. – Adam Fusfeld