This week, Standard & Poor's posted new figures that show the domestic housing market's rebound is anything but certain, causing bankers to have cautious optimism.
Utilizing 10- and 20-city composites, the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Prices Indices data compared one-month price changes from January to February 2010, and also twelve-month prices from February to February.
January to February
In the 20-city composite, only one location-San Diego-saw a rise in prices from January 2010. The 0.6% rise, though, was slight. All other cities saw decreases that ranged from New York's -0.4% to Portland's -2.4%. The 20-city composite fell -0.9%.
What a Difference a Year Makes
A brighter picture emerges, though, in the sampled metro areas' twelve-month comparisons. San Francisco's 11.6% rise was the largest among the surveyed cities. San Diego came in second with a 7.6% increase. The 20-city composite improved 0.6%.
Las Vegas, which has endured one of the country's largest drops in home value, continues its decline with a -14.6% drop from February to February.
Writing in USAToday.com, Stephanie Armour states that prices in Charlotte, New York, Las Vegas, Portland, Seattle, and Tampa have fallen to new lows.
Home prices peaked nearly four years ago in June and July of 2006. February's average prices dropped close to their numbers from 2003's summer and early fall.
But David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at Standard and Poor's, is cautious. "It is too early to say that the housing market is recovering," he says. "The homebuyer tax credit...is the likely cause for these encouraging numbers and this may also flow through to some of our home price data in the next few months. Amidst all the news, however, we should also pay heed to foreclosure activity, which have reached their highest level in at least the last five years."
But even with these dismal numbers, it appears that consumers think the economy is turning a corner. The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index shows an increase from March to April 2010.
April's Index number was 57.9, which is an improvement over March's 52.3. Providing evidence that the rebound may not be fleeting, this is the highest the Index has been since September 2008. The Index pulls its data from a survey of 5,000 American households.
Americans are also feeling good about the job market. 18% of those surveyed thought the future would bring more jobs, which is an improvement from March's 14.1%. Similarly, those who believed the number of jobs would decrease dropped from 21.1% to 20%.
In March, 45.8% of survey respondents said that jobs were "hard to get." This is a decline from February's number of 47.3. Combined with the optimistic responses to April's survey, these data could indicate a rising trend.