The latest in the monthly rollout of reports on the housing sector's recovery, as reflected in house prices, came today with Case Shiller earlier and continued with Lender Processing Services' (LPS) Home Price Index (HPI).  While the methodology and data sources for each report are different and the actual numbers vary, the LPS report confirms the same trajectory as has each of the other monthly and annual numbers reported this month; prices are coming back and coming back strongly.

LPS reports that its HPI for March was up 1.4 percent from the February number to $213k.  This number is based on a repeat sales analysis of home prices at closing for transactions in each of more than 15,500 ZIP codes.  LPS represents the price of non-distressed sales by taking into account discounts for distressed sales. 

The LPS HPI is up 2.9 percent thus far in 2013 and has increased 7.6 percent since March 2012.  The company reports that prices as reflected by its index are down 19.5 percent from the peak of $265 in June 2006.

The LPS month-over-month increase of 1.4 percent in March is identical to both the 10- and 20-City Composites issued by S&P this morning and only one basis point higher than the Home Price Index published last week by the Federal Housing Finance Agency from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae transactions.   CoreLogic reported an even stronger increase; its index that includes sales of REO and short sales (distressed sales), rose 1.9 percent in March and 2.4 percent with distressed sales excluded.

Estimates of annual price changes fell into two distinct groups with FHFA and LPS substantially more conservative in their estimates than the others.  FHFA reported an annual increase of 6.7 percent while LPS, as reported above, estimated a 7.6 percent annual rise.  A cluster of higher estimates came from S&P Dow Jones, up 10.3 percent for the 10-City Index and 10.9 percent for the 20-City; the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) which reported a 11.0 percent increase in median existing home prices, and CoreLogic which said its index with distressed sales rose 10.5 percent and the index without those sales was up 10.7 percent.

February and March 2012 are variously reported at the months during which home prices bottomed out nationally so this month's reports are the first showing a solid 12 months of price increases nationally in probably more than seven years.  What is intriguing about these reports, in addition to their substantial unanimity over the last few months, is the acceleration of the increases over the last month or two even before the traditionally strong spring market begins to be reflected in the data.    

LPS, for example, reports a 2.9 percent increase since January, more than a third of the annual increase in two months.  Twenty percent of the total annual increase of 6.7 percent reported by FHFA was -posted in March as was 14 percent of the increase in the S&P Dow Jones 10-City Index and 13 percent of the 20-City.

Today's LPS release also reported that every state in the nation posted an increase in home prices in March, with the greatest change in Georgia (2.6 percent), Nevada (2.4 percent), the District of Columbia (2.2 percent) Washington and Illinois (2.1 percent each).   At the low end were Rhode Island and Tennessee, both up 0.6 percent, Texas, Oklahoma, Vermont, and Pennsylvania all at 0.7 percent.

All 40 of the metropolitan areas covered in the report were also in positive territory for the month with the largest price increases in San Jose (3.0 percent), Atlanta and Las Vegas (2.6 percent) and San Francisco and Deltona Florida (2. Percent).  Memphis had the smallest increase at 0.2 percent followed by York, Pennsylvania, Chattanooga, Harrisburg, and San Antonio, all at 0.4 percent.