Real Estate Decline Decelerates Slightly

In an encouragement-is-where-you-find-it report, the latest S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices released on Apr. 28 reported continuing deep declines in the prices of existing single-family homes in the U.S., but for the first time in 16 months the annual declines in the two components of the index did not set new records.

The data, reflecting home prices through February, indicated 10 of the 20 metro areas in the index show record rates of decline, with 15 showing declines of more than 10% year-over-year. The 10-City and 20-City composite indexes posted year-over-year declines of 18.8% and 18.6%, respectively. That was slightly better than January, when they fell by 19.4% and 19%, respectively, year-over-year.

"While the declines in residential real estate continued into February, we witnessed some deceleration in the rate of decline in some of the markets," David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor's, said in a news release. "Furthermore," he added, "this is the first month since October 2007 where the 10- and 20-City Composites did not post a record annual decline. We will certainly need a few more months of data before we can determine if home prices are finally turning around."

Year-over-year, the three worst-performing cities were Phoenix, down 35.2%; Las Vegas, down 31.7%; and San Francisco, down 31.0%. On the other end of the scale, the three cities showing the least declines year-over-year were Dallas, down 4.5%; Denver, down 5.7%; and Boston, down 7.2%.

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