Despite another month of home price improvements, the housing sector stumbled in September as prices fell in five of the 20 cities covered in the monthly ""Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller Home Price Index"":http://www.standardandpoors.com/servlet/BlobServer?blobheadername3=MDT-Type&blobcol=urldocumentfile&blobtable=SPComSecureDocument&blobheadervalue2=inline%3B+filename%3Ddownload.pdf&blobheadername2=Content-Disposition&blobheadervalue1=application%2Fpdf&blobkey=id&blobheadername1=content-type&blobwhere=1245343891441&blobheadervalue3=abinary%3B+charset%3DUTF-8&blobnocache=true.[IMAGE]
The 10-city index increased 0.3 percent from August to 158.93, its highest level since September 2010. Meanwhile, the 20-city index rose by the same 0.3 percent to 146.22, also the highest in two years. The national index improved 2.2 percent in the third quarter to 135.67, its highest level since Q3 2010.
Economists had expected a slightly faster monthly improvement of 0.4 percent.
Prices had increased in 19 of the 20 cities in July and August and in all 20 cities in May and June. The quarterly report on prices nationally also showed a deceleration: The 2.2 percent Q3 gain was down sharply from the 7.1 percent jump in the second quarter.
The 10-city index showed a 2.1 percent year-year gain, and the 20-city index was up 3.0 percent from September 2011, according to Case-Shiller.[COLUMN_BREAK]
According to the ""National Association of Realtors"":http://www.realtor.org/, the median price of an existing single-family home dropped 3.6 percent in September, but was up 7.9 percent from September 2011.
The improvement in the Case-Shiller indices--both the 10- and 20-city have risen month-over-month for the last six months--has been increasingly weaker. In the preceding five months, the improvement in the 10-city index averaged 2.4 percent, and the 20-city index averaged 2.3 percent.
Prices dropped in September in five cities, led by a 0.9 percent decline in Cleveland, a 0.6 percent decline in both Boston and Chicago, a 0.3 percent drop in Charlotte, and a 0.1 percent dip in New York. All of those cities showed price gains August.
The cities in which prices improved monthly were led by Las Vegas and San Diego, each of which showed a 1.4 percent gain. Prices had improved 1.6 percent in Las Vegas and 0.9 percent in San Diego in August. Prices rose 1.1 percent in September in Phoenix and Minneapolis, compared with 1.8 percent and 1.2 percent increases, respectively, in August.
Year-over-year, prices improved in 18 of the 20 cities in September, compared with annual gains in 17 of the 20 cities in August.
Prices were down year-over-year in September in New York (2.3 percent, matching the 12-month drop registered in August) and in Chicago (1.5 percent), which had shown a 2.6 percent monthly drop in August.
Yearly price gains were led by Phoenix (20.4 percent) Minneapolis (8.8 percent), Detroit (7.6 percent), San Francisco (7.5 percent), and Miami (7.4 percent).
Even with the increases, the 10-year index remains down 29.8 percent from its June 2006 peak, and the 20-year index is down 29.2 percent from its July 2006 peak.