U.S. home prices jump in May: Case-Shiller

U.S. home prices jump in May: Case-Shiller

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By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — U.S. home prices jumped in May, marking the second month of gains, according to a closely followed index released Tuesday.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite rose 2.2% on the month to take the 12-month change to 0.7%. All 20 cities in the index saw monthly gains, including a 4.5% surge in Chicago and a 4% gain in hard-hit Atlanta.

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On a year-over-year basis, prices are down 0.7%, the smallest fall in 18 months. By this metric, Phoenix prices have climbed 11.5% while Atlanta’s have dropped 14.5%.

“We have observed two consecutive months of increasing home prices and overall improvements in monthly and annual returns; however, we need to remember that spring and early summer are seasonally strong buying months so this trend must continue throughout the summer and into the fall,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

“June data for existing home sales, new home sales, housing starts and mortgage default rates were a bit mixed, but all are better than their year-ago levels. The housing market seems to be stabilizing, but we are definitely in a wait-and-see mode for the next few months.” Read more on existing home sales.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, prices climbed 0.9% on the month.

The Case-Shiller report relies on three months of data, so it includes housing transactions in March and April.

Other measures of home prices have been quicker to register gains. CoreLogic, for instance, reported that prices on a year-over-year basis rose 2% in May.

Factors including record-low mortgage rates and a slowly improving labor market have helped put a floor on prices. Still, they have come down precipitously from prerecession levels. According to Case Shiller, prices are down by roughly a third from their peak in 2006.

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