Broadly speaking, March’s data for the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices were negative for the housing market. The 10-City Composite was down 0.1% and the 20-City was flat in March over February; while the National Index saw prices fall by 2.0% during the first quarter of 2012. In addition, all three indices reached new post-crisis lows.
Looking deeper into the details, there was some marginally positive news. Only three cities – Atlanta, Chicago and Detroit – saw annual rates of change worsen in March. The other 17 cities and both composites saw an improvement in this statistic, even though most rates are still negative. But there are now seven cities where the annual rates of change are positive – Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis and Phoenix.
Monthly increases in prices have to be paired with improvement in annual returns for any sort of stability in the housing market. We saw some of that with March’s data, but need to see monthly increase coupled with improving annual rates of changes for many more months before we know the housing market is on the mend.