February home prices show ups and downs

April 24, 2012 at 11:39 AM
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NEW YORK, April 24 (UPI) -- U.S. home prices show strengths and weaknesses in the housing market, the closely watched monthly Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller report said.

In February, prices in some cities demonstrated resilience, while nine of 20 cities tracked by the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index reported post-crisis lows, the monthly report said.

The report said both the 10-city and 20-city indexes fell 0.8 percent from January to February, but the 10-city index dropped 3.5 percent on an annual basis and the 20-city index fell 3.6 percent February to February.

The annual rates were an improvement compared to January, when prices on the 10-city index were down 4.1 percent on an annual basis and the 20-city grouping showed prices down 3.9 percent over 12 months.

But the report is a classic mixed message. On an annual basis, home prices in Atlanta fell 17.3 percent in February, the fifth consecutive month Atlanta has posted double-digit declines. Denver, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis and Phoenix, however, posted positive annual returns with Phoenix now showing gains for the second consecutive month.

The report noted home prices in Phoenix are rising from the ashes of the crisis. However, the price index for Phoenix "is still down 54.2 percent from its peak," the report said.

"While there might be pieces of good news in this report, such as some improvement in many annual rates

of return, February 2012 data confirm that, broadly-speaking, home prices continued to decline in the early

months of the year," said David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices in a statement.

Blitzer noted that, "Phoenix and Atlanta stand out this month in terms of their contrasting relative strength and weakness in the early 2012 housing market."

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