Nationwide housing market stabilizing, but Florida lags far behind

Jul.July 28, 2009 01:51 PM

Nationwide home prices showed their first monthly gain in three years in May, according to S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index data released today. That indicates that the national housing market may be stabilizing, but Florida remains among the hardest hit areas.

“Florida was one of the markets that was severely hurt and is not looking very good,” said Maureen Maitland, the vice president of index services for Standard & Poor’s, the provider of the report.

Home prices in the Miami metropolitan area fell 25.2 percent in May from the same month last year, and fell 0.8 percent from the previous month, the report shows. That is a slight improvement over the previous month, when Miami prices fell 2 percent between April and March. Still, Miami was one of 16 metro areas that saw double digit year-over-year declines, with Miami, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Seattle and Tampa posting their lowest index levels yet. Phoenix experienced the highest year-over-year declines with 34.2 percent.

While Miami’s decline seems to be slowing a bit, the area “still has a ways to go,” she said, noting that Florida continues to be hard hit because of an excessive amount of homes for sale. “There were just too many houses for the number of people who wanted to buy them,” she said.

As a whole, the nationwide housing market saw some improvement. The S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index, which gauges values in 20 major U.S. cities, increased 0.5 percent from April, the first monthly gain since July 2006, the report shows. The 20-city index was down 17.1 percent from May 2008, an improvement from April, when it declined 18.1 percent year-over-year.

Thirteen of the 20 metro areas measured by the index saw month-over-month improvements, and eight of them, including Boston, Chicago and Cleveland, saw a monthly price increase of more than 1 percent.

May data shows that the pace of decline across the country may be slowing, Maitland said, but she pointed out that spring is traditionally the most active home-buying season of the year.

“We’re approaching this with cautious optimism,” she said. “There are positive indicators, there’s no doubt about it. But you can’t use one month of data to say the market is turning around.”

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