May Case-Shiller numbers are out, and for Los Angeles, the news is good. Prices moved up 2.2 percent from April to May, according to the index, which tracks data for both a 10- and 20-city group. This reinforces a trend that we saw starting earlier this year.
In L.A., February-March saw a tiny 0.1-percent increase after a January-February month-on-month decline. But the March-April uptick was better: 1.5 percent. This could mean that prices are gaining a footing and could start to build on their gains.
And now April-May was better still. In fact, with a 2.2-percent increase, L.A. matched the composite, which was up 2.2 percent in the aggregate. However, year-over-year, L.A. home prices for the period were down more than for the overall index: a decline of 2 percent.
L.A. is basically in the middle of the Case-Shiller pack, with home-price increases for May that weren't as robust as Chicago (up 4.5 percent) or San Francisco (plus 3.9), but not as limited as Charlotte (up 1 percent) or San Diego (only up 0.9 percent).
According to Case-Shiller, U.S. home prices have returned to 2003 levels. In L.A., we're starting to see not just stabilizing prices, but moderate increases on a steady basis. However, some caution is in order: Case-Shiller lags the economy by a few months. June and July were not especially great, as Europe continued its slow implosion and we learned that the U.S. economy only grew 1.5 percent in the second quarter. But the argument that housing in the U.S. is forming a bottom is starting to sound more convincing.