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>Has the Housing Market Really Hit Bottom?

By Jason Simpkins
Managing Editor
Money Morning

A rash of positive housing data has given some analysts hope that the housing market has bottomed and an economic recovery is underway. But the soaring unemployment and rising mortgage rates could lead to a double-dip plunge for the housing market.

Home prices rose on a monthly basis in May for the first time in nearly three years, according to the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index. The index of 20 metropolitan areas showed a month-over-month increase of 0.5% in May – the first increase in the monthly index since July 2006.

And while housing prices in the 20 cities fell 17.1% year-over-year in May, that’s still an improvement over April’s 18.1% drop. Year-over-year declines in home prices have now lessened for four straight months.

The improvement in the Case-Shiller index followed the release of several equally optimistic government reports that showed increases in home sales and housing starts, and a decline in inventories.

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