Home prices fell in October for the first time since March according to the monthly Case-Shiller Home Price Index released Wednesday.
Both the 10-city index and the 20-city index decreased 0.1 percent from September to 158.77 and 146.08 respectively. The value of the 10 city index fell 0.10 and of the 20-city index dropped 0.09. The 10-city index for October was 3.4 percent higher than it was in October 2011 and the 20-city index showed a 4.3 percent year-year gain.
Economists had expected the 20 city index to dip 0.3 percent in October but show a 4.1 percent year-year improvement. The Federal Housing Finance Administration index for October, reported last week, showed a 0.5 percent month-month increase and a 5.6 percent year-year gain. The median price of an existing single family home, according to the National Association of Realtors, fell 0.8 percent in October but still registered a 10.0 percent year-year increase.
According to the Case Shiller Index, prices fell in October in12 of the 20 cities tracked compared with September when prices fell month-month in seven cities. Prices had increased in 19 of the 20 cities in July and August and in all 20 cities in May and June.
Prices declined 1.5 percent in Chicago in October as the unemployment rate there rose to 9.9 percent from 9.4 percent in September. Prices dropped 1.4 percent in Boston and Phoenix in October though the unemployment rate in Boston improved to 6.3 percent in October from 6.5 percent in September. The unemployment rate in Phoenix was unchanged in the month remaining at 7.1 percent. Price drops in the other nine cities where prices fell in October were less than 1.0 percent.
Half of the cities which showed price drops were in the South, three in the Midwest, two in the Northeast and one in the West.
Prices rose 2.8 percent in October in Las Vegas which also saw its unemployment rate improve in the month to 11.6 percent from 11.9 percent and 1.3 percent in San Diego where the unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent from 9.8 percent one month earlier. Price gains in the other five cities which showed improved were less than one percent. Prices were unchanged in the month in Denver.
Year over year prices improved in 18 of the 20 cities in October, matching September. Only Chicago and New York showed year-year price declines: 1.3 percent in Chicago and 1.2 percent in New York. The unemployment rate in Chicago dropped from 11.6 percent in October 2011 to 9.9 percent in October 2012 but in New York rose to 9.2 percent from 9.1 percent one year earlier.
Phoenix showed the strongest year-year price increase, up 21.7 percent from October 2011 to October 2012 with Detroit a distant second recording a 10.0 percent price gain. While the unemployment rate in Phoenix fell 1.6 percentage points year-year, it increased 0.3 percent points to 18.9 percent in Detroit from October 2011 to October 2012.
The 10-city index in October was down 29.8 percent from its June 2006 peak and the 20-city index is down 29.3 percent from its July 2006 peak.
_Hear Mark Lieberman every Friday on P.O.T.U.S. radio, Sirius-XM 124, at 6:40 am and again at 9:40 eastern time._