Sixteen out of 20 metros tracked by a S&P/Case-Shiller home price index posted annual gains in July, with home prices up by an average of 1.2 percent from a year ago.

For the third month in a row, all markets tracked by the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite posted gains from June to July. The 20-city composite was up 1.6 percent from June on a non-seasonally adjusted basis.

A home price index maintained by the Federal Housing Finance Agency also showed home prices posting a 3.7 percent annual gain in July. That index — which tracks homes with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — showed home prices returning to June 2004 levels, but still down 16.4 percent from an April 2007 high.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite index shows home prices down 31.2 percent from a June 2006 peak. But the overall trend painted by July’s numbers indicates to industry watchers a positive turn in the housing market.

"The news on home prices in this report confirm recent good news about housing," said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, in a statement. "Single-family housing starts are well ahead of last year’s pace; existing-home sales are up; the inventory of homes for sale is down; and foreclosure activity is slowing."

Writing on his blog, Calculated Risk, Bill McBride called the fact that the Case-Shiller indices posted a second consecutive month of annual gains in July "significant."

"However, no one should expect the strong price increases to continue," McBride said.  "I suspect much of the increase over the last few months was a ‘bounce off the bottom,’ and price increases over the next year or two will probably be more gradual."

Source: Calculated Risk

Metros in the 20-city composite posting annual declines were Atlanta (-9.9 percent), New York (-2.6 percent), Las Vegas (-1 percent) and Chicago (-0.9 percent). The annual home price decline dropped below double digits in Atlanta for the first time in nine months.

Metro area July 2012 index level Change from June Change from a year ago
Atlanta 94.15 2.6% -9.9%
Boston 157.22 1.8% 0.9%
Charlotte 116.08 0.9% 2.2%
Chicago 116.70 2.7% -0.9%
Cleveland 102.02 0.4% 0.4%
Dallas 121.20 0.9% 3.7%
Denver 132.79 1.3% 5.4%
Detroit 77.16 3.3% 6.2%
Las Vegas 94.57 0.7% -1.0%
Los Angeles 170.81 1.3% 0.4%
Miami 148.70 2.1% 5.3%
Minneapolis 123.17 3.7% 6.4%
New York 165.23 1.2% -2.6%
Phoenix 117.22 2.2% 16.6%
Portland 140.12 1.2% 3.2%
San Diego 156.48 1.1% 0.8%
San Francisco 141.71 1.9% 4.8%
Seattle 141.78 1.4% 3.1%
Tampa 134.12 0.9% 3.6%
Washington, D.C. 192.12 1.5% 3.7%
Composite-10 157.30 1.5% 0.6%
Composite-20 144.61 1.6% 1.2%

Sources: S&P Dow Jones Indices and Fiserv.

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