Case Shiller off in many U.S. cities but not in Twin Cities

  • Article by: FROM STAFF and WIRE REPORTS
  • Updated: May 29, 2012 - 8:18 PM

An index of home prices in 20 American cities slumped in March compared to a year earlier, but the slide was the slowest since December 2010.

The Standard & Poor's/Case Shiller index of property values fell 2.6 percent compared with last year after a 3.5 percent decline from February 2011 to 2012.

The Twin Cities metro, however, posted one of the biggest annual increases in the nation. Prices were up 3.3 percent compared with last year. Other gainers included Phoenix, Denver, Miami, Detroit, Dallas and Charlotte.

From February to March the 20-city composite was flat, with prices falling slightly in the Twin Cities.

When adjusted for seasonal factors, the national composite rose 0.1 percent from February to March while Twin Cities prices were up 0.8 percent. Home sales in the Twin Cities and other markets with harsh winter weather tend to be strongest in the spring and summer, so seasonally adjusted the data means a slight downward adjustment for March and beyond. Though the March report showed some signs of price stabilization in the Twin Cities, the index has been posting steady month-to-month declines. From January to February, for example, the Twin Cities index was down 1 percent before falling 0.9 percent from February to March.

Earlier this month the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors said the median price of closed sales in April was up 12.4 percent in large part because of a decline in the number of rock-bottom priced foreclosures, which caused a statistical upwards shift in median price.

The data signal a potential turnaround in the housing market, or at least signs of stabilization, analysts believe.

Home values showed year-over-year declines in 13 of the index's 20 cities. Cities reaching new lows were Chicago; Las Vegas; New York; Portland, Ore.; and Atlanta, which suffered an 18 percent plunge.

Phoenix had the most substantial increase, with prices rising 6.1 percent.

The index, created by economists Karl Case and Robert Shiller, is widely considered the most reliable read on home values. The housing index compares the latest sales of detached houses with previous sales and accounts for factors such as remodeling that might affect a house's sale price.

Tiffany Hsu of the Los Angeles Times and Star Tribune staff writer Jim Buchta contributed to this article.

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