The latest U.S. housing market data released Tuesday underscore the persisting trend of uneven performance in the industry.
The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index showed prices hit post-bubble lows in February, and U.S. home sales data show that while not all housing news is dismal, a strong and stable
recovery is a long way off.
The U.S. housing sector has been a drag on the economy since a home price bubble burst and helped cause the 2007-2009 recession. While many economists maintain that a budding recovery is blooming in the troubled sector, recent housing market data are simply another wake-up call.
Here's a look at the numbers.
Case-Shiller Home Price Index Falls
The Case-Shiller Home Price Index
of 20 cities revealed a price drop from January to February of 0.8% (on a non-seasonally adjusted basis). The 10-city index also fell 0.8%.
The 20-city index declined 3.5% from a year ago, while the 10-city composite slipped 3.6%.
"Nine housing markets and both composites hit post crisis lows," David Blitzer, a spokesman for S&P, told CNN Money
. Included in the nine markets are Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Las Vegas and New York.
Blitzer went on to note, "While there might be pieces of good news in this report, such as some improvements in many annual rates of return, February 2012 data confirm that, broadly speaking, home prices continued to decline in the early months of the year."
Foreclosures and other distressed property sales continue to be the main challenge for home prices, Pat Newport, an analyst for IHS Global Insight relayed to CNN.
"We still have 6 million homeowners who are late on their payments," said Newport. "We'll still have lots of foreclosures, which will depress prices."
In fact, with January's mammoth $26 billion mortgage settlement between five major banks and a group of state attorneys general
, foreclosures that had been held up for a year or more are now moving forward.
"Enough homes are in the foreclosure pipeline to keep house prices falling through much of this year," Celia Chen, a housing economist at Moody's Analytics, told the Los Angeles Times
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