Home price index: Nation, California see slip in September


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Home prices in the nation’s largest cities fell from August to September, according to a closely watched index, renewing a decline in values with the end of the busy spring and summer months.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index of 20 American cities, a key measure that is closely watched by economists, fell 0.6% from August to September and 3.6% from September 2010.


‘Any chance for a sustained recovery will probably need a stronger economy,’ David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P index committee, said in a release announcing the new data Tuesday.

All of the California cities in the index posted declines from the prior month. Los Angeles and San Diego were down 0.8% and San Francisco fell 1.5%. A drop in sales and weakening in values is common from August to September, as many families tend to close their purchases and complete their moves before the start of the school year.

Home prices in the California cities are comparatively healthy despite the state’s high unemployment rate, because the markets tracked by the index are close to key job centers such as Hollywood and Silicon Valley and are also near the ocean -- where overbuilding was relatively constrained. The index does not track prices in California’s Central Valley or the Inland Empire, where housing is still weak.

The Case-Shiller index also includes adjusted data, but the experts who publish these numbers have cautioned that the large number of foreclosures on the market have distorted the statistics. The adjusted data showed the 20-city index fell the same amount from August to September.


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-- Alejandro Lazo