Explaining Southern California's economy

LA outperforms most other cities for home price gains in January

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

A for sale sign is seen in front of a home in Los Angeles. The Case-Shiller Home Price Index for January saw the city sustain it momentum, with another positive monthly gain and a big year-over-year increase.

The  Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller Home Price index for January released Tuesday shows Los Angeles not just maintaining the positive momentum it has sustained since early last year, but beating out most other cities in the index for price gains.

Winter is typically a slow period for the U.S. housing market outside the South and the Southwest U.S.  so take L.A.'s January performance with a grain of salt. Prices increased by 0.9 percent from December, which was actually not as good as the November-December gain of 1.1 percent

Compared with January of last year, however, prices in L.A. — one of the cities that appears in both the 10- and 20-city Case-Shiller composite indices — increased 12.1 percent. Los Angeles was one of eight cities that notched double-digit year-over-year gains, with Phoenix's red-hot market leading the entire Case-Shiller index, with a gain of 23.2 percent.

Case-Shiller lags the market by two months. The index represents a three-month moving average of prices. That's why we're just getting January numbers, even though it's almost April.

Elsewhere in California, San Francisco's December-January price gains were flat, while San Diego lost some ground, with a 0.6-percent decline. Year-over-year, both cities registered substantial gains, San Diego up 9.8 percent and San Francisco's 17.5-percent gain second only to Phoenix in the index.

Nationally, Case-Shiller continues to show that the U.S. housing market is in recovery mode.  

"The two headline composites posted their highest year-over-year increases since summer 2006. This marks the highest increase since the housing bubble burst," said David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, in a statement.

Home prices in the U.S. have now recovered to late 2003 level, according the index. But they're still well off peaks hit in 2006-07.

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