An open house sign for a South Bay Brokers property in Redondo Beach on Sept.… (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg…)
WASHINGTON -- Home prices in the nation's largest cities rose 1.6% in July to their highest level in nearly two years, according to a leading index released Tuesday, adding to recent data showing the housing market finally has begun its rebound from the deep recession.
The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index of prices in the 20 biggest U.S. cities rose for the fourth straight month. And in a sign the rebound is broad-based, it was the third consecutive month that prices rose in all 20 cities from the previous month.
Prices in those cities also were up compared to a year earlier, with the 1.2% increase coming in above analyst expectations of 1.1%. Sixteen of the the 20 cities posted year-over-year increases in July.
Overall, prices in the 20 largest cities in July were still down about 30% from their peak in mid 2006, before the housing market crashed. But prices were up about 8% from their lows in early 2012 and the Case-Shiller index reached its highest point since October 2010.
“The news on home prices in this report confirms recent good news about housing," said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. "All in all, we are more optimistic about housing. Upbeat trends continue."
Tuesday's data come on the heels of increases in starts of new single family home construction, existing home sales and a slowdown in foreclosures.
Atlanta had one of the biggest increases in July compared to June, with prices up 2.6%. The city's real estate market had been struggling, and prices were still down 9.9% year-over-year.
Home prices in Los Angeles were up 1.3% in July from June, and just 0.4% year-over-year. The biggest improvement from a year ago was in Phoenix, where prices were up 16.6%.
Case-Shiller Home Price Index: Composite 20 data by YCharts
Home price gains drive drop in underwater mortgages
Housing starts and existing home sales both rose in August
San Francisco considers allowing nation's tiniest micro-apartments
Follow Jim Puzzanghera on Twitter and Google+.