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Home Prices, While Declining, Continue to Improve


The annual rate of declining home prices continued to moderate in October for the ninth month this year, according to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

Both the 10-city and 20-city composite indices improved versus September, as did all metro areas in the 20-city index. October is the latest month for which the indices are available. The 10-city index declined 6.4% for the month. The 20-city index dropped 7.3%.

As of October 2009, average U.S. home prices are at a similar level as in autumn 2003. From the price peak in the second quarter of 2006 to the lowest point in April 2009, the 10-city composite index was down 33.5% and the 20-city composite index off by 32.6%. With the relative improvement of recent months, the declines stand at 29.8% and 29% respectively.

"All in all, this report should be described as flat," said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor's. "The turn-around in home prices in the Spring and Summer has faded, with only seven of the 20 cities seeing month-to-month gains , although all 20 continue to show improvements on a year-over-year basis" Blitzer added.

Blitzer dismissed fears, sparked by the relatively flat data for October, that home prices are likely to dip again. He pointed to the Fed's, "stable and consistent policy," strong sales of existing homes in recent months, and continued weak housing starts as factors that support continued home price improvement.

Read the complete news release here.