Mixed results in Case-Shiller report

The S&P/Case-Shiller Index, a bellwether for the new housing market, has reported that the U.S. National Home Price Index declined by 3.9% during the fourth quarter of 2010 compared with the same quarter in 2009.

As of December 2010, 18 of the 20 MSAs covered by S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices were down compared with December 2009. The 10-City and 20-City Composites were down 0.9% and 1.0%, respectively, from their November levels.

Both Los Angeles and San Francisco reported negative annual rates of return in December, leaving San Diego and Washington, D.C., as the only two cities where home prices are increasing on a year-over-year basis, +1.7% and +4.1%, respectively.

According to David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor's: “Unlike the 2006-to-2009 period when all cities saw prices move together, we see some differing stories around the country. California is doing better with gains from their low points in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. At the other end is the Sun Belt -- Las Vegas, Miami, Phoenix and Tampa. All four made new lows in December.”

Blitzer also said that he was seeing “renewed weakness” in some cities that were among the last to reach their peaks, including Atlanta, Charlotte, Portland, Ore., and Seattle, where new lows are being recorded. Dallas, which peaked late, has so far stayed above its low mark of home prices in February 2009. 

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