The 10- and 20-city S&P/Case-Shiller home price indices posted monthly increases for the fifth month in a row in August, according to a report released today.

Seventeen of the 20 metros tracked by the index posted annual gains in August, with home prices up by an average of 2.0 percent from a year ago.

All but one of the markets tracked in the 20-city composite index posted gains from July to August. The 20-city composite was up 0.9 percent from July on a non-seasonally adjusted basis.

A home price index maintained by the Federal Housing Finance Agency showed home prices up 4.7 percent from a year ago. 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 15.9 percent from an April 2007 high.

The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite index shows home prices approximately 35 percent below a June/July 2006 peak. But August’s numbers indicate to industry watchers a positive position for the housing market.

"The sustained good news in home prices over the past five months makes us optimistic for continued recovery in the housing market," said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, in a statement. "Single family housing starts are 43 percent ahead of last year’s pace, existing and new home sales are also up, the inventory of homes for sale continues to drop and consumer mortgage default rates are reaching new lows."

Writing on his blog, Calculated Risk, Bill McBride called the recent change to year-over-year annual increases for the Case-Shiller indices a "significant story."

"The year-over-year gain is better than it sounds," said Jed Kolko, chief economist for home marketplace Trulia. Since the composite indices only focus on a few metros, some of which have been hard hit in terms of home pricing, the indices have actually "been understating year-over-year national price growth," he said.

Source: Calculated Risk

Metros in the 20-city composite posting annual declines were Atlanta (-6.1 percent), New York (-2.3 percent), and Chicago (-1.6 percent).

Metro area August 2012 index level Change from July Change from a year ago
Atlanta 95.80 1.8% -6.1%
Boston 158.27 0.7% 1.7%
Charlotte 116.58 0.6% 2.8%
Chicago 117.45 0.7% -1.6%
Cleveland 103.04 1.0% 1.1%
Dallas 121.34 0.1% 3.6%
Denver 133.48 0.5% 5.5%
Detroit 79.18 2.3% 7.6%
Las Vegas 96.04 1.6% 0.9%
Los Angeles 173.02 1.3% 2.1%
Miami 150.12 1.0% 6.7%
Minneapolis 124.65 1.2% 7.4%
New York 166.32 0.7% -2.3%
Phoenix 119.28 1.8% 18.8%
Portland 140.80 0.5% 3.6%
San Diego 157.84 0.9% 1.9%
San Francisco 142.37 0.5% 5.3%
Seattle 141.69 -0.1% 3.4%
Tampa 134.91 0.4% 4.2%
Washington, D.C. 194.00 1.1% 4.3%
Composite-10 158.62 0.9% 1.3%
Composite-20 145.87 0.9% 2.0%

Sources: S&P Dow Jones Indices and Fiserv.

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