Home Prices Up Nationwide – D.C. Continues to Lead the Way

photoNationwide home prices posted their first six-month winning streak in three years, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller indexes. The Greater Washington, D.C., area continued to lead the nation at 192.1, up 1.5% from the previous month.

The composite 20-city home price index was up 1.6% in July from the previous month and increased 1.2% from a year earlier. Sixteen of the 20 cities posted annual increases in July. Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas and New York notched annual declines. Every city posted a monthly increase compared to June.

While price gains were not as steep in the Washington area, the 192.1 index towers over other metro areas. Los Angeles is second at 170.8.

“Home prices increased again in July,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “All 20 cities and both Composites were up on the month for the third time in a row. Even better, 16 of the 20 cities and both Composites rose over the last year. Atlanta remains the weakest city but managed to cut the annual loss to just under 10%.

“The news on home prices in this report confirm recent good news about housing. Single family housing starts are well ahead of last year’s pace, existing home sales are up, the inventory of homes for sale is down and foreclosure activity is slowing. All in all, we are more optimistic about housing. Upbeat trends continue. For the third time in a row, all 20 cities and both Composites had monthly gains. Stronger housing numbers are a positive factor for other measures including consumer confidence.”

“While the index, and prices more generally, remain well below pre crisis levels, the improvement in the last few months has been noticeable and perhaps more importantly, more rapid than previous episodes of fleeting improvement,” said economists at BTIG Economics. They cautioned, however, that some of the recent gains were the result of fewer short and foreclosure sales, helping to boost aggregate pricing data.

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