For the first time in eight months the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices rose over levels of the previous month.  Data through April 2012 showed that on average home prices increased 1.3 percent during the month for both the 10- and 20-City Composites.

Prices are still down 2.2 percent for the 10-City and 1.9 percent for the 20-City over figures for one year earlier but this is an improvement over the year-over-year losses of 2.9 and 2.6 percent recorded in March.  Improvements in the annual figures were also recorded by 18 of the 20 cities when compared to March with only Detroit and New York faring worse.  The 10-City Composite now has an index of 148.40 and the 20-City 135.80; the base of 100 was set in January 2000.

Nineteen of the 20 cities and both Composites posted positive monthly returns, with Detroit being the only exception.  Phoenix continues to lead cities with improving trends and had a 2.5 percent increase in April and the highest annual rate of return among all 20 cities.  Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, and Ls Vegas continue to have average home prices below their January 2000 levels while both Composites have returned to levels in the early and mid 2003 period.

David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices said, "With April 2012 data we finally saw some rising home prices.  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."

 "We were hoping to see some improvement in April," Blitzer said.  "First, changes in home prices are very seasonal, with the spring and early summer being the most active buying months.  Second, while not as strong, and we believe less reliable, the seasonally adjusted data were also largely positive, a possible sign that the increase in prices may be due to more than just the expected surge in spring sales.  Additionally, the last few months have seen increased sales and housing starts amidst a lot of talk of better housing markets, so some price gains were anticipated."

Atlanta posted the only double-digit negative annual return at -17.0 percent, its 22nd consecutive month of negative annuals returns.  Ten of the 20 cities saw positive annual returns - Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Tampa, and Washington, DC.  There were no new city lows in April."

"Atlanta and Phoenix, two markets we have followed closely in 2012 for their contrasting trends, have continued along their opposite paths," Blitzer said.  "Atlanta continues to be the only city with double-digit negative annual returns - 17.0 percent, whereas Phoenix fared the best in terms of annual returns at +8.6 percent in April."

Case-Shiller Home Prices