The two major price indices of the Case-Shiller, the 10- and 20-City Composites, showed annual declines of 3.6 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively, which brought the indices to new post-bubble lows.
The declines, though, were less than in January, when the indices fell 4.1 percent and 3.9 percent from the year before.
David M. Blitzer, the Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices, said that though the initial numbers look bleak, there are still positive developments in the latest data from the Standard & Poor's-produced indices.
“While there might be pieces of good news in this report, such as some improvement in many annual rates of return, February 2012 data confirm that, broadly-speaking, home prices continued to decline in the early months of the year,” Blitzer said. “Nine MSAs – Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Las Vegas, New York, Portland, Seattle and Tampa – and both Composites hit new post-crisis lows."
Not all of the cities included in the indices experienced falling prices, though. Five of the 20 saw positive annual returns – Denver, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis and Phoenix.
Houston's home values are not tracked by the Case-Shiller, but Dallas' prices, which are, were unchanged from January and fell only 1 percent from last year, which is among the more promising pricing developments among the 20 cities tracked.
In a post on the Case-Shiller, Bill McBride noted the 10-City Composite is 34.2 percent down from its peak, and the 20-City Composite is 33.9 percent down; however, McBride has also been one of the most consistent voices on the dated nature of the Case-Shiller, which operates on a two-month delay with its data, and as a result, often neglects key economic information that impacts pricing data.
As he wrote for January's index: “[T]he January Case-Shiller house price index … is actually a three month average for house sales recorded in November, December and January,” he wrote. “But remember that the purchase agreement for a house that closed in November was probably signed in September or early October. So some portion of the Case-Shiller index will be for contract prices six or even seven months ago!”