Home prices fell in the second quarter at a slower pace than in the first quarter, the first time in three years there has been an improvement from one quarter to another, according to a gauge of U.S. home prices published on Tuesday that also showed a month-over-month improvement in prices.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, recorded a 14.9% decline in the second quarter, compared with a 19.1% drop in the first quarter.

S&P’s 10-city and 20-city composites recorded annual declines of 15.1% and 15.4%, respectively.
“There is some sign of good news in these data,” David Blitzer, managing director at S&P and chairman of the rating agency’s index committee, said on a conference call with reporters soon after the report’s release.

Robert Shiller, professor at Yale Univeristy, added on the conference call that while “it looks like a turning point,” it “really is too soon to call this a turning point.”

According to Blitzer, the rise in S&P’s U.S. National Composite index from the second quarter to the first quarter is the first time “we have seen a positive quarter-over-quarter print in three years.”

On a month to month basis, the measure of home prices also offered reason for optimism.
In June, 10-city and 20-city composite indices rose 1.4% from May. In May they rose 0.5%.
The Dallas and Denver markets saw their fourth consecutive month of positive returns, while Las Vegas and Detroit saw a drop in prices in June and a deterioration in their annual rate of return.
On a month-over-month basis, Cleveland saw a 4.2% increase in home prices while San Francisco’s home prices rose 3.8%.

According to analysts at RBS Greenwich Capital, the breadth of the increase in the Case-Shiller figures is noteworthy. As analysts at the firm noted in a report on Tuesday, “Based on the seasonally adjusted data for the 20 cities included in the composite, only one city posted an increase in March, followed by four in April, eight in May, and 15 in June. Moreover, seven of the 20 cities posted seasonally adjusted monthly increases of more than 1% in June.”

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