U.S. home prices jump 1.3% in April: Case-Shiller
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- U.S. home prices shot up in April to post the first monthly gain since last autumn, according to a closely followed index released Tuesday.
The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite index gained 1.3%, with 19 out of 20 cities registering gains, to take the year-on-year drop from 2.6% to 1.9%.
Of the 20 cities measured, only hard-hit Detroit took a step backward, with a 3.6% reversal. Even Atlanta, where prices were 17% below year-ago levels, enjoyed a 2.3% monthly gain.See city-by-city breakdown.
"It's been a long time since we enjoyed such broad-based gains," said David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P.
"While one month does not make a trend, particularly during seasonally strong buying months, the combination of rising positive monthly index levels and improving annual returns is a good sign."
On a seasonally adjusted basis -- which S&P says is less reliable than the unadjusted data -- prices rose 0.7% on the month.
Blitzer said the seasonally adjusted gain suggests there was more at work than just the start of spring buying season.
Case-Shiller was the last of the major home-price readings to show a gain, and it's the only one still showing year-on-year drops. CoreLogic, for instance, said home prices have gained 1.1% compared to April 2011 levels.
One reason could be that the Case-Shiller index measures gains on a rolling three-month basis, so April's report includes transactions in February and March.
The report dovetails with other indicators showing a housing market crawling off lows, as the unemployment rate has come down from peaks and as mortgage rates are around record lows.
"The key point here is that the price collapse is over, and potential homebuyers need not be put off now by the prospect of big capital loss," said Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.
On Monday, the Commerce Department reported that sales of new homes jumped nearly 8% on the month and by nearly 20% compared with the same period of 2011. Read full story on U.S. new-home sales,
Nonetheless, home prices remain roughly a third below their pre-recession peak, as are sales.
Separately, the Conference Board reported a decline in consumer confidence in June.See related story.