Is Housing Back?

According to S&P Dow Jones S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, one of the leading measures of home prices in the United States, it is.  The most recent press release by S&P Dow Jones indicated that average home prices increased 8.6% and 9.3% for the 10 and 20-City Composites in the 12 months ending February 2013.  The 10 and 20-City Composites rose 0.4% and 0.3% from January to February.

‘Home prices continue to show solid increases across all 20 cities,’ says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. ‘The 10- and 20-City Composites recorded their highest annual growth rates since May 2006; seasonally adjusted monthly data show all 20 cities saw higher prices for two months in a row – the last time that happened was in early 2005.’

‘Phoenix, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Atlanta were the four cities with the highest year-over-year price increases. Atlanta recovered from a wave of foreclosures in 2012 while the other three were among the hardest hit in the housing collapse. At the other end of the rankings, three older cities – New York, Boston and Chicago – saw the smallest year-over-year price improvements.’

‘Despite some recent mixed economic reports for March, housing continues to be one of the brighter spots in the economy. The 2013 first quarter GDP report shows that residential investment accelerated from the 2012 fourth quarter and made a positive contribution to growth. One open question is the mix of single family and apartments; housing starts data show a larger than usual share is apartments.’

Are these gains temporary?  Or are we on an upward trajectory?  The data seems to support the latter.  Housing is usually a leading indicator for the market, providing hope for a broader recovery.

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