Home Prices See Modest Gains

Home prices saw an uptick in July compared with the previous month, according to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller home-price indexes, released on Tuesday.

September 29, 2010
By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons user chrisdlugosz

Home prices saw an uptick in July compared with the previous month, according to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller home-price indexes, released on Tuesday. The 10-city index rose 0.8 percent month-over-month and the 20-city index was up 0.6 percent. Year-over-year in July, the 10- and 20-city indexes were up 4.1 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.

“Home prices crept forward in July,” David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor’s, noted in a statement. “Ten of the 20 cities saw year-over-year gains and only one–Las Vegas–made a new bottom, as the impact of the first-time home buyer program continued to fade away.”

He added that “anyone looking for home price to return to the lofty 2005-2006 might be disappointed. Judging from the recent behavior of the housing market, stable prices seem more likely.” But who would be looking for a repeat of the mid-2000s bubble?

Consumers Feeling Extra Grouchy

According to the Conference Board on Tuesday, U.S. consumer confidence was lower than a snake’s belly, dropping to 48.5 in September from 53.2 in August, the lowest reading since the gloomy snows of February 2010. Various surveys of economists hadn’t predicted such a precipitous drop.

The reason for the decline? Jobs, mostly. Some 46.1 percent of respondents characterized jobs as “hard to get,” up from 45.5 percent in August. Even the minuscule percentage of respondents who said that jobs were “plentiful” (and who are they, anyway?) was down from 4 percent last month to 3.8 percent this month.

There are income worries, too. According to the Conference Board, only 10.2 percent of respondents expect their incomes to rise in the next six months. A good many more, 16.3 percent, are nervously fingering their wallets, anticipating a loss of income by the spring of 2011. Most respondents expected to get a zero percent rise in income in the near future.

Leave Us Alone: Zell

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Tuesday that Sam Zell told students at the University of Pennsylvania in a speech that the government ought to start “doing nothing” to help the economy recover. Meaning what? It was a short quote, so perhaps the context was lost, but according to Zell the economy is in bad shape because “people who have [resources to invest] are unwilling to take the risks, because there is no certainty… on the part of the government to leave us alone.”

Is this the Sam Zell we’ve all heard of? The risk-taking grave dancer of real estate lore? Maybe he meant other nervous billionaires, but not him.

Wall Street turned upward again on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 46.1 points, or 0.43 percent. The S&P was up 0.49 percent and the Nasdaq advanced 0.41 percent.