June Case-Shiller figures show prices down 15.9% YOY
* Prices fell 0.5% from May in 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas. That was another improvement on the month (May was -0.9%, April was -1.3%, March was -2.2%, and February was -2.6%). However, the year-over-year decline in prices came to 15.9%, worse than the 15.8% drop in May. That's also the largest decline so far for the monthly index, which was first published in 2001.
* The 10-city index has a longer history. It declined 17% YOY in June, compared with 16.9% in May. That's the worst reading since S&P started tracking in the late 1980s.
* We are still seeing prices down on a year-ago basis in every one of the 20 metropolitan areas the group tracks. The biggest declines were found in Las Vegas (-28.6%), Miami (-28.3%), Phoenix (-27.9%) and multiple markets in California (-25.3% in L.A., -24.2% in San Diego, and -23.7% in San Francisco). Charlotte, N.C. (-1%) and Dallas (-3.2%) were the best performing markets on a relative basis.
The story remains the same with the latest Case-Shiller figures: The month-over-month rate at which home prices are falling is moderating. Some markets have even seen a minor spring rebound. But the year-over-year rate of change is still abysmal. Moreover, some of the markets that were strong are joining the "loser's list." Indeed, prices were down from year-ago levels in all 20 major metropolitan areas in the index.
The bottom line: In some markets where distressed sales rule the roost and prices are down sharply, we are seeing transaction volumes climb. But all that distressed sales volume makes life very difficult for average sellers. In other markets that didn't experience huge price booms, the weakening broader economy and tighter credit standards are starting to make life tougher. They're starting to experience a more "traditional" type of housing market downturn -- one brought on by slower growth and rising unemployment, rather than the bursting of a speculative bubble.