Housing price index: San Diego only metro area with increase

San Diego was one of the first metropolitan areas where house prices started to tumble, and now is the only metropolitan area in the nation to show increased home prices between January and February, a national tracking firm said Tuesday.

The Standard and Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Index for San Diego rose 0.6 percent between January and February, and researchers said all of the other 19 metropolitan areas tracked by the index declined during the same period.

Year-over-year, the index for San Diego was up 7.6 percent.

Nationally, the S&P index was down .9 percent between January and February, but up .6 percent from the same period last year.

“Beginning last November, each report showed gains as fewer cities reported year-over-year declines than in the previous month; those gains ended with this report,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Index Committee.

“Further, in six cities prices were at their lowest levels since the prices peaked three-to-four years ago,” he said. “These data point to a risk that home prices could decline further before experiencing any sustained gains.”

According to Blitzer, “tremendous improvement” in existing and new home sales, inventories and housing starts in March were likely the result of a federal homebuyer tax credit that is available until the end of April.

“Amidst all the news, however, we should also pay heed to foreclosure activity, which have reached their highest level in at least the last five years,” he said. “As these homes are put up for sales, we may see some further dampening in home prices.”

The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices tracks the value of single-family homes by analyzing thousands of properties using sales data in 20 U.S. metropolitan markets.