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Home Prices Declined in February

This morning, Standard & Poor’s released its S&P/Case Shiller housing index data for February. It is not pretty. The composite index declined for the fifth straight month. Of the 20 cities Case Shiller follows, only Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Washington, Las Vegas and New York registered gains in home prices between January and February — in all of the 14 other cities, home prices declined.

In 11 of the 20 cities, though, home prices increased year-on-year, and for the first time since December 2006, the two composites Case Shiller measures both made year-on-year gains.

Notably, two major Obama administration programs supporting house prices are at their end. The Federal Reserve’s initiative to buy up billions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ended at the end of last month. And the first-time homebuyer’s tax credit expires on April 30. The sunset of those programs will dampen enthusiasm about a possible March or April uptick in prices.

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