Thursday, September 02, 2010

Housing market report

Housing prices up in June
But worry persists as foreclosures, unemployment remain bloated.

By Kirsten Valle

Posted: Wednesday, Sep. 01, 2010

Charlotte-area home prices continued to inch up in June, a closely watched index released Tuesday shows.

Prices in the metropolitan area rose 0.7 percent from May, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index. Home prices climbed in June in 17 of the 20 market areas the index tracks, stayed flat in two and declined in one.

The index shows housing prices have begun to rebound from the lowest point of the housing crisis. But other recent indicators signal a difficult road ahead, as first-time homebuyer tax credits have ended, foreclosures continue and unemployment remains inflated.

Mecklenburg home sales fell 11 percent in July, for instance, over the year before, and the average home price climbed just 1 percent that month, remaining below the levels of a few years ago.

Charlotte has held up better than other markets in some respects, but it continues to lag on the Case-Shiller index, the latest data show.

Charlotte-area prices fell 2.7 percent in June from June 2009 - one of only five markets to experience a year-over-year decline, the index shows. That's well below the average gain of 4.2 percent for the Case-Shiller index's 20 markets.

The index is one of the most precise measures of home values because it tracks repeat sales. Like stock market indexes, Case-Shiller reflects changes in price, not an actual price.

Las Vegas remained among the weaker cities, the report found, with home prices falling 0.6 percent from May and 5.2 percent from June 2009. But other markets showed improvement: California's major cities, for instance, have moved from some of the hardest hit to three of the four leading cities, based on year-to-year gains, the index shows.

Still, worry persists.

"While the numbers are upbeat, other more recent data on home sales and mortgages point to fewer gains ahead," said David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P index committee, in a statement Tuesday. "... If this relative weakness in demand continues, it will likely filter through to home prices in coming months."

Kirsten Valle: 704-358-5248

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