Home price declines across the country continued to moderate in August, according to the latest release of the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index. This marks seven months of improvments in these statistics, beginning in early 2009. (See Home Prices chart.)
“Broadly speaking, the rate of annual decline in home price values continues to improve” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor’s.
Year-over-year, all 20 metro areas surveyed continued declining prices. But 19 of the 20 showed a slight increase in August over July. Many have had several such monthly gains. Boston has had a string of such gains, beginning in April, and once again was among only four with annual declines below 5%.
The home buyer tax credit extension and expansion could help sustain this positive trend. Weighing against it, course, are anticipated higher unemployment rates, and a possible increase in foreclosures.
From the peak in the second quarter of 2006 through August 2009, a composite index of the 20 metro areas surveyed had declined about 30%, returning to price levels not seen since autumn of 2003. By contrast, metro Boston had declined about 15% from its September 2005 peak, through August 2009, for an average annual loss rate of 3.6%.
The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index records repeat sales of single-family homes, allowing it to avoid distortions due to changes in the sales mix over time. The Index has a two-month lag, that is, August is reported in October.