Home prices inched up again in August according to the latest Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller indexes, yet more evidence that the housing market recovery has some traction.
Year over year, the 10-city index and 20-city index were up 1.3 percent and 2 percent, respectively. Only three cities saw declines: Atlanta, down 6.1 percent; New York, down 2.3 percent; and Chicago, down 1.6 percent. Continuing its climb up from the depths of the housing bust, Phoenix posted its fourth-straight month of double-digit growth, up nearly 19 percent in August.
Both the 10-city and the 20-city index rose nearly 1 percent in August from July. Only one area, Seattle, saw lower prices, down 0.1 percent. But, as Trulia chief economist Jed Kolko points out, the headline figures from the Case-Shiller indexes aren't seasonally adjusted.
"Almost half of the 0.9 percent month-over-month gain is due to seasonal factors, which are typically most favorable in the August and September releases," Kolko wrote in an E-mail. Seasonally adjusted, price growth was closer to 0.4 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.
The outlook is relatively bright for the housing market, but the recovery will look very different in local housing markets across the country. While crisis comeback-kid Phoenix continues to lead the home price recovery, other metro areas continue to struggle. Atlanta, another city badly burned by the housing bust, posted a more than 6 percent annual decline in home prices.
But while Atlanta posted the largest yearly decline, during the past three months (August versus May) the city has seen prices rise 5.5 percent, the highest among the 20 metro areas tracked by the Case-Shiller indexes.
Pent-up demand for homes is helping to stabilize prices and record low mortgage rates have given would-be buyers and incentive to move quickly on purchasing a home.
"Looking forward, price increases will continue," Kolko says.
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Meg Handley is a reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.