The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index rose slightly in February on a seasonally-adjusted basis, beating analysts' expectations by a hair while showing slowing rates of home price gains.  The 20-City Index was up 0.8 percent against consensus expectations of 0.7 percent.  The 10-City Index rose 0.9 percent.  The 20-City rose 13.1 percent compared to February 2013 and the 10-City was up 12.9 percent on an annual basis. There was no change on an unadjusted basis.

Thirteen cities saw lower annual rates of appreciation than in January and thirteen saw lower month-over-month increases.  Las Vegas had the largest annual return at 23.1 percent but that was down from the annual rate of 24.9 percent the previous month.   Only five cities saw their annual rates improve in February. After posting annual gains of over 20 percent for their twelfth consecutive month, Las Vegas and San Francisco both decelerated in their annual rates. San Diego narrowed the gap with a return of 19.9 percent, Washington D.C. recorded its eighth consecutive improvement with an annual rate of 9.1 percent, its highest since May 2006.

Cleveland had the largest monthly decline of 1.6 percent and Minneapolis followed at -0.9 percent. Las Vegas posted -0.1 percent, marking its first decline in almost two years. Tampa had its largest decline, 0.7 percent, since January 2012.

David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices said of the February results that while monthly results held steady the annual rates for both indices cooled the most they have in some time.  "The three California cities and Las Vegas have the strongest increases over the last 12 months as the West continues to lead. Denver and Dallas remain the only cities which have reached new post-crisis price peaks. The Northeast with New York, Washington and Boston are seeing some of the slowest year-over-year gains. However, even there prices are above their levels of early 2013. On a month-to-month basis, there is clear weakness. Seasonally adjusted data show prices rose in 19 cities, but a majority at a slower pace than in January."

Blitzer said that even with recent price increases most housing statistics are weak with sales of both new and existing houses either flat or down.  "The recovery in housing starts, now less than one million units at annual rates, is faltering. Moreover, home prices nationally have not made it back to 2005.  Mortgage interest rates, which jumped in May last year and are steady since then, are blamed by some analysts for the weakness. Others cite difficulties in qualifying for loans and concerns about consumer confidence. The result is less demand and fewer homes being built," he said.

"Five years into the recovery from the recession, the economy will need to look to gains in consumer spending and business investment more than housing," Blitzer continued.  "Long overdue activity in residential construction would be welcome, but is certainly not assured."

As of February 2014, average home prices across the United States are back to their mid-2004 levels. Measured from their June/July 2006 peaks, the peak-to-current decline for both Composites is approximately 20 percent. The recovery from the March 2012 lows is 23 percent for the 10-City and 20-City Composites.