Housing prices in Los Angeles and Orange counties have risen for the third straight month, according to a closely watched index of sale prices.
Single family homes in the region sold for 2.2% more in May than in April, the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index showed. That’s still slightly less than last year in May, but a considerable improvement over January, when prices were down much further.
“L.A. is perhaps bottoming and moving into positive territory,” said Maureen Maitland, vice president of S&P Dow Jones Indices, which analyzes the data each month. “Home prices are improving not just month to month but versus where they were a year ago.”
To be sure, Maitland said, housing sales pick up every spring, because many people like to move in the summer in order to minimize disruptions for children in school.
Still, she said, prices in Los Angeles and around the nation seem to be on the way up after a six-year slump. That doesn’t mean that prices will reach boom levels any time soon, she said, but another month or two of increase could indicate that the market is becoming stable.
The S&P/Case-Shiller index was developed by economists Robert Shiller and Karl Case, is unusual among methods for tracking home prices.
Most home price trackers report the sales prices of homes in a particular area and calculate an average or median.
Case-Shiller, by contrast, compares each house against its own former sales price. So if a house sold for $100,000 in 2007 and then sold again last week for $120,000, the Case-Shiller index would reflect that increase.