Finally, a Happy Housing Stat

Cause for celebration, albeit a very subdued one: The U.S. housing market has finally stopped accelerating into the abyss. Check out the latest from Case-Shiller:


Both home price indexes delivered an annual return of negative 18% in April, S&P and Case-Shiller report today. While that’s still a lousy number, it marks the third month in a row of flat-to-rising annual rates of return… neither the 10- or 20-city index has set an yearly record decline since January.

We hasten to note that home prices are still falling — S&P/Case-Shiller say home prices are down roughly 33% from their 2006 peak. But at least “the pace of decline has moderated,” as S&P likes to say.

“Every metro area, except for Charlotte, recorded an improvement in monthly returns over March,” adds David Blitzer of S&P. “While one month’s data cannot determine if a turnaround has begun, it seems that some stabilization may be appearing in some of the regions. We are entering the seasonally strong period in the housing market, so it will take some time to determine if a recovery is really here.

“The stock market bottomed in March and measures of consumer confidence have turned upward. This report shows that these better spirits are also appearing in the housing market.”

Funny Mr. Blitzer should mention consumer sentiment. The Conference Board’s measure of consumer confidence unexpectedly fell in June, the group reports today. Their index of consumer vibes slipped to 49.3, from a downwardly revised 54.8 in May… the Street was expecting a slight increase to 55. That’s the first fall in consumer confidence since April.