Healthy home price gains in three national indexes reveal a housing market that continues to pull the economy out of the doldrums.
Data through December 2012, by the Standard & Poor's/Dow Jones Home Price Indices report reveals the national composite index posted an increase of 7.3 percent for 2012.
The 10-City Composite was up 5.9 percent and 20-City Composite was up 6.8 percent in 2012, according to S&P/DJ.
"Housing and residential construction led the economy in the 2012 fourth quarter. In December’s report all three headline composites and 19 of the 20 cities gained over their levels of a year ago. Month-over-month, 9 cities and both Composites posted positive monthly gains. Seasonally adjusted, there were no monthly declines across all 20 cities," said David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.
S&P/DJ reported, as of December 2012, average home prices across the United States for the 10-City and 20-City Composites were back to their autumn 2003 levels in December.
Home prices reaching for peaks
Measured from their June/July 2006 peaks, the decline for both composites is approximately 30 percent through December 2012.
That's a big turnaround for some areas that had suffered declines of 50 percent or more of their home values through the housing downturn.
Blitzer cautioned about expectations for larger year-over-year home price gains in the coming months.
"These movements, combined with other housing data, suggest that while housing is on the upswing some of the strongest numbers may have already been seen," he said.
Atlanta and Detroit posted their largest year-over-year increases of 9.9 percent and 13.6 percent, respectively, since the start of their inclusion in the S&P/DJ indices in January 1991.
Dallas, Denver, and Minneapolis recorded their largest annual increases since 2001.
Phoenix continued its climb, posting an impressive year-over-year return of 23 percent. Phoenix has posted eight consecutive months of double-digit annual growth, according to S&P/DJ.
Double digits on the city level
While double-digit increases aren't likely soon on a national level, some city-level home price increases are soaring.
The largest year-over-year price increases were in Phoenix, 23 percent; San Francisco, 14.4 percent; Detroit 13.6 percent; Las Vegas 12.9 percent; Minneapolis, 12.2 percent; Miami, 10.6 percent and Los Angles, 10.2 percent.
The only city to see an annual price drop was New York City, where prices slipped 0.5 percent.