home salesThe U.S. housing sector received some good news Tuesday -- home prices in 20 major cities rose a better-than-expected 4.2% in June on a year-on-year basis, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price survey. Prices also rose a non-seasonally adjusted 1% in June, from May.

But June's bright spark may represent brief relief for the troubled residential real estate sector -- the data probably reflects some effects of the home buyer tax credit, an expired program that benefited residential buyers who signed contracts before the end of April. Meanwhile, reports show July existing-home sales plunged 27.2% and July new-home sales plummeted 12.4%, the latter hitting a 47-year low.

Hard-Hit Cities Improve

A Bloomberg survey had expected home prices to rise 3.6% in June on a year-over-year basis. Home prices in the 20-city index rose a non-seasonally adjusted 0.5% in May from the previous month (4.6% on a year-over-year basis) and a non-seasonally adjusted 0.4% in April (3.8% on a year-over-year basis).

Meanwhile, the 10-city index also rose a non-seasonally adjusted 1% in June (5.2% on a year-over-year basis), after rising a non-seasonally adjusted 0.5% in May (5.4% on a year-over-year basis).

David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor's, said June's data was encouraging, but realtors and potential home sellers should keep in mind that the figure, like May's and April's data, likely still contain the effects of the home buyer tax credit.

"The monthly Composites cover June and the national index covers the second quarter, when the government's program for first-time home buyers was winding down. While the numbers are upbeat, other more recent data on home sales and mortgages point to fewer gains ahead," Blitzer said in a statement. "Even with concerns about near-term developments, we recognize that the housing market is in better shape than this time last year."

"Further, California's cities have moved from some of the hardest hit to three of the four leading cities based on year-over-year gains," Blitzer added. "Among the other hard-hit cities, the news is also a bit encouraging."

The home buyer tax credit, which provided an $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers and $6,500 for repeat buyers, ended Apr. 30. Given the current mood of austerity in Washington, it doesn't look like there's enough political support on Capitol Hill to renew the credit again.

Key Cities Post Year-Over-Year Gains

Year-over-year percentage price changes in major U.S. cities were as follows: New York, up 0.2%; Chicago, down 0.1%; Boston, up 3.4%; Washington, D.C., up 7.3%; Atlanta, up 2%; Tampa, down 1.6%; Miami, up 1.1%; Dallas, up 1.2%; Denver, up 1.8%; Los Angeles, up 9.2%; San Francisco, up 14.3%; and Seattle, down 1.8%.

Originally greeted by Wall Street with a shrug, S&P/Case-Shiller home price data rose to market-mover status in 2008 as the housing bubble, which was fueled considerably by mortgage market excesses, finally burst.

While real estate's doldrums are far from over, the June data does show that prices are at least not falling universally, despite inadequate job growth during the economic recovery. But tough times remain for the housing sector. Reports released earlier show July existing-home sales plunged 27.2%. And July new-home sales plummeted 12.4% -- a 47-year low.

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Stop all THE HYPE. We got a LONG WAY TO GO IN HOUSING. No MICROWAVE solutions here!!

September 01 2010 at 6:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

HAHAHAHAHAHA! ONE month at a 1% increase??? Awesome article guys.

September 01 2010 at 12:51 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Home prices move up and down with the local business community, if a business moves to India or China, the home prices in the neighborhood being left will fall, being gone to will rise. So if Americans will finally get smart and STOP buying foreign made junk, and START demanding USA made quality products, then maybe the prices of homes will go up where you live. The problem is the corporate world does NOT want to hire you, they are holding out for more tax breaks and less regulation, something only a Republican will provide them, just like they got under GWB, and just before they shoved it to all of America....

August 31 2010 at 11:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mac2jr's comment


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August 31 2010 at 11:36 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to wackoredneck's comment

thanks to obama, the answer is no.

August 31 2010 at 11:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Mr. Lazzaro your artical infers that the tax credit had much to do with the slight rise home sales and upon ending a huge decrease in home sales. I think there are more issues here. The issue of finding qualified buyers (gainfully employed people) may have played a significant roll in this as well. Another issue is the glut of foreclosed homes that have lowered values; and are not selling. Then there are home owners who are so far under water that $8,000.00 isnt't going to make any difference. So if the prices are dropping how come sales are not increasing? Does this $8000.00 or $6500.00 come from income taxes collected from a citizen; does the Fed print more money; or is the money borrowed?

August 31 2010 at 11:24 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Good night. God SAVE America and bless our troops, active and retired, and their families.

August 31 2010 at 11:13 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

240 ministers, priests, and imams linking arms on the steps of the Lincoln monument is a testament to the reach that Beck has had in touching lives through his courage.

August 31 2010 at 11:11 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to raspberries0's comment

Oops -- rabbi's too!

August 31 2010 at 11:11 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply