Home Prices Up, But Slide Not Over Yet

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There was good news for homeowners Tuesday as home prices in 13 major U.S. cities rose for the first time in eight months.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home-price index shows home prices rose in 13 of 20 cities, according to the April report released Tuesday.

The index, which covers metro areas that include about 50 percent of U.S. households, rose 0.7 percent. It marked the first increase since July. The index measures sales of select homes in those cities compared with prices in January 2000 and provides a three-month average price. The April data is the latest available.

Washington, D.C. saw the biggest price increase followed by San Francisco, Atlanta, and Seattle.

Home prices in six major cities still remain at their lowest level in four years. These include Charlotte, Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, along with Miami and Tampa.

Last month, home prices in big metro areas sunk to their lowest level since 2002. Since the bubble burst in 2006, prices have fallen more than they did during the Great Depression.

David M. Blitzer, chairman of Standard & Poor's index committee, cautioned that while the price index increase was a "welcome shift from recent months," much of the improvement was likely because of the beginning of the traditionally busy spring and summer home-buying seasons.

"It is much too early to tell if this is a turning point or simply due to some warmer weather," he said.

According to analysts, Tuesday's report did not signal an end to falling home prices. Homeowners, they noted, are mostly unwilling to sell given the widespread declines in home values. Analysts also predicted that nearly 2 million foreclosures could hit the market over the next two years.

Housing remains the weakest part of the U.S. economy.

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