The S&P/Case Shiller® composite index for the month of February was released today.
"'Beginning last November, each report showed gains as fewer cities reported year-over-year declines than in the previous month; those gains ended with this report. Further, in six cities prices were at their lowest levels since the prices peaked three-to-four years ago. These data point to a risk that home prices could decline further before experiencing any sustained gains. While the year-over-year data continued to improve for 18 of the 20 MSAs and the two Composites, this simply confirms that the pace of decline is less severe than a year ago. It is too early to say that the housing market is recovering' says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor’s. 'Nineteen of the 20 MSAs and both Composites declined in February over January. Fourteen of the MSAs and both Composites have now fallen for at least four consecutive months. In addition, prices reached recent new lows for six cities in February – Charlotte, Las Vegas, New York, Portland, Seattle and Tampa – sending a more cautionary message compared to the annual figures. While 14 MSAs and the two composites show improvement over their trough values reached in the spring 2009, we are not completely out of the woods. Existing and new home sales, inventories and housing starts all show tremendous improvement in their March statistics. The homebuyer tax credit, available until the end of April, is the likely cause for these encouraging numbers and this may also flow through to some of our home price data in the next few months. Amidst all the news, however, we should also pay heed to foreclosure activity, which have reached their highest level in at least the last five years. As these homes are put up for sales, we may see some further dampening in home prices.'"