Home prices nationwide recorded their first annual increase in more than three years in February, but the monthly number declined for the fifth straight month in February as many markets remained on government life support.
The S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices in 20 metropolitan cities fell 0.9 percent during the month from January, but rose 0.6 percent in February from a year earlier, the first annual gain since December 2006. Eleven out of 20 cities included in the index posted annual declines, underscoring the enormous pressure the housing market still faces.
For the first time in three years, however, the annual rates of decline of the 10-city and 20-city composites improved in February compared to January 2010. For example, the 10-city composite was up 1.4 percent from where it was in February 2009, while the 20-city composite inched up 0.6 percent versus the same time last year.
But the results were mixed. Home prices in Las Vegas performed the worst, dropping 14.6 percent, followed by Tampa (-6 percent), Seattle (-5.6 percent) and Detroit (-5.4 percent). The best performer was San Francisco, up 11.9 percent, followed by San Diego (7.6 percent) and Los Angeles (5.3 percent).
Still, the health of the housing market is difficult to determine. The federal government has poured trillions of dollars into the real estate market, but the housing recovery remains illusive.
Home Prices, by Metro Area