Home prices are showing positive annual growth for the first time since the summer of 2010, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices out t0day.
All three composites of the Case-Shiller indices - the national, 10- and 20-city composites - were up for June from one year ago. The national composite rose 1.2 percent in the second quarter of 2012 from the same period a year ago. The 10- and 20-city composites rose 0.1 percent and 0.5 percent in June 2012 from June 2011.
"We still have a large percentage of those with mortgages under water, but every little bit helps," said Scott Brown, chief economist with investment firm Raymond James. Brown said the collapse in housing wealth has been a drag on consumer spending.
"We seem to be witnessing exactly what we needed for a sustained recovery; monthly increases coupled with improving annual rates of change. The market may have finally turned around," said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, in a statement.
Two cities - Charlotte and Dallas - saw annual rates of decline accelerate in June, Blitzer pointed out. Only six cities - Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York and San Diego - had negative annual rates of change. Boston's annual home price rate was flat.
Last week, two home sales reports indicated that the housing market may have rebounded from the bottom.
Last Thursday, the Commerce Department reported new homes sold at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 372,000 in July, an increase of 3.6 percent a month ago and 25.3 percent more than a year ago, just a bit higher than economist expectations.
Last Wednesday, the National Association of Realtors reported monthly sales of existing homes increased 2.3 percent in July to 4.47 million.
The housing market is clawing back from a deep rout kicked off by the financial crisis in 2007-08, so home prices are now back to levels last seen in the summer of 2003.