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Case-Shiller Indices Show Midwest Price Weakness

Despite weakness in the Midwest, home prices posted their strongest year-over-year gain in almost seven years in February, according to the Case-Shiller 10- and 20-city Home Price Indexes released Tuesday. Home prices rose year-over-year in all 20 of the cities in the Case-Shiller survey. appraisal

Month-over-month, the 10-city index improved 0.4 percent in February, while the 20-city index was up 0.3 percent. On a yearly basis, the 10-city index was up 8.6 percent, and the 20-city index rose 9.3 percent.

Economists had forecast the 20-city index would rise slightly to 146.16, essentially unchanged from January but 9.0 percent higher than February 2012.

Prices rose in 11 cities in February over January while falling in eight. Prices were unchanged in one city, Atlanta.

In February, the National Association of Realtors reported the median price of an existing single family home rose 1.5 percent and was up 11.3 percent from February 2012.

The February report showed a distinct regional pattern, with prices falling in four Midwest cities—the only Midwest cities in the survey. Prices also fell in two of the six Southern cities and in one of the eight Western cities.

The 10-city index rose to 159.24, while the 20-city index improved to 146.57—the highest level since September 2010 for both composites.

The year-over-year price gains were led by Phoenix, where prices rose 23.0 percent, consistent with a sharp drop in that city’s unemployment rate.

In all, ten cities saw double-digit percentage year-over-year increases. In addition to Phoenix, prices were up 18.9 percent in San Francisco; 17.6 percent in Las Vegas; 16.5 percent in Atlanta; 15.2 percent in Detroit; 14.1 percent in Los Angeles; 12.0 percent in Minneapolis; 10.4 percent in Miami; 10.2 percent in San Diego; and 10.0 percent in Tampa.

In two of the three cities with the weakest annual home price growth—Chicago (up 5.1 percent) and Cleveland (up 5.3 percent)—household employment declined year-over-year, down 1,768 in Chicago and 1,028 in Cleveland. In Boston, prices rose a relatively modest 5.2 percent as household employment increased 1,097.

Monthly price gains were led by Las Vegas (1.6 percent), Phoenix (1.1 percent), and Los Angeles (1.0 percent). Prices rose by less than 1.0 percent in February in Boston, Dallas, Miami, New York, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, and Tampa.

Prices fell in 0.9 percent in February in Minneapolis and 0.8 percent in Chicago and Cleveland. Charlotte, Denver, Detroit, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., all saw price drops of less than 0.7 percent.

While the report showed national strength, there were some regional weaknesses. Prices fell for the sixth straight month in Chicago, Cleveland, and Washington, D.C., and have fallen in five of the last seven months in Seattle. The price increase in New York followed a string of five consecutive monthly price declines.

On the other hand, the report showed a steady improvement in prices in the West. Prices have increased in Phoenix for 17 straight months, in Los Angeles and San Francisco for 12 straight months, and in Las Vegas for 11 straight months.

The 10-city index is down 29.6 percent from its June 2006 high of 226.29, and the 20-city index is off 29.0 percent from its July 2006 peak of 206.52.

Hear Mark Lieberman Friday on P.O.T.U.S. radio, Sirius-XM 124, at 8:45 a.m. Eastern.