The residential real estate market continues to give off mixed signals — indications of continued, yet gradual, improvement that is well shy of full recovery.
Among the current signs: •Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Indexes, which measure home prices nationally, showed year-over-year declines in February. Nine cities, including New York and Chicago, reached post-housing-bubble lows. Prices stand now where they were in late 2002-early 2003. •Single-family home prices in the city of Philadelphia declined 4.6 percent in the first quarter from fourth-quarter 2011 levels, according to Kevin Gillen, a vice president at Econsult Corp. That brings the city’s cumulative price decline since the bubble burst locally in third quarter 2007 to 21.3 percent. To compare, prices in Phoenix are 54.2 percent lower than their peak. •First-quarter sales of previously owned homes in the eight-county Philadelphia region were 9.6 percent higher than levels of the first three months of 2011, according to Prudential Fox & Roach’s HomExpert Market Report. Prices fell 2.6 percent over the year in the region, and were flat from the fourth quarter. City median prices, including condos, were down 6.4 percent quarter to quarter. •March new-home sales nationally declined 7.1 percent from February but were 7.5 percent above year-ago levels, the Census Bureau reported. The median price was $234,500, up 6.3 percent from March 2011. The numbers were based on a small sample, however.