Florida home prices improve, Case-Shiller price index reports, but still struggle

Florida is seeing a slight improvement in home prices, according to the report

Florida has seen a slight improvement in home prices, but it remains one of the hardest hit areas of the country, according to S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index July data released today.

In Florida, “the numbers are still pretty gruesome,” David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor’s, told The Real Deal.

Home sale prices in the Miami metropolitan area fell at a slower pace than previous months, according to the index, which gauges values in 20 major U.S. cities. Miami-area prices fell 21.2 percent in July from the same month last year, compared to a year-over-year drop of 23.4 percent in June, and 25.2 percent in May.

Still, Miami was among 14 metro areas showing double-digit year-over-year declines, with Las Vegas posting its lowest index levels yet — a decline of 54.8 percent from its peak in August of 2006.

Florida has fared slightly better than the West Coast. With an index value of 147.27, Miami home values are down about 46 percent from their peak, Blitzer said. The index was set at a base value of 100 in January 2000, meaning that homes in the area have appreciated 47.27 percent since then.

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Some 13 metropolitan areas show at least three straight months of price gains, the data shows, but Miami was not among them. While Miami-area prices jumped 1.3 percent between June and July, and 0.5 percent between May and June, they dropped 0.8 percent between April and May.

Despite these slight improvements, the area is not out of the woods, Blitzer said.

“A lot of things could go wrong,” he said. “One of the big things is that we could see a lot more foreclosures in Florida.”

Nationwide, home prices are still declining but at a slower pace than the previous month, marking approximately six months of improvement.

The 10-city and 20-city composites declined 12.8 percent and 13.3 percent respectively in July compared to the same month last year. All 20 metro areas measured by the index showed improvement in the annual rates of decline, and only two areas — Las Vegas and Seattle — showed month-over-month drops.