Today's Case-Shiller report offers a bit of promise: 10 of the 20 cities tracked by the report showed month-to-month increases in the August index, which measures home prices since 2000. That was true for the Twin Cities, which saw a .4 percent increase from July to August. That increase was slightly weaker than the June to July increase of 2.7 percent. Not a surprising shift given that home prices in the Twin Cities tend to rise through the summer and fall slightly going into the fall, but the Case-Shiller report includes data for a three-month window, which tends to even out some of those seasonal changes. And the data doesn't differentiate between normal deals and foreclosures.

Also in the report: only 2 of the 20 metro areas posted an annual increase. The Twin Cities wasn't on that list. In fact, with an -8.5 percent decline in the index compared with last year, Minneapolis posted the biggest year-over-year declines. While the index is still down significantly compared with last year in the Twin Cities, those declines have gotten smaller over the past three months, a sign that the market isn't getting worse. Only two cities in the index: Detroit and Washington DC, showed positive annual returns, but they were modest.

Such statistical ups and downs are what economists call an "uneven recovery," and while there's no conclusive evidence that home prices have hit bottom, the smaller annual declines we're seeing in the Twin Cities are encouraging.