Last week's release of the Standard & Poor's / Case-Shiller home price index showed that the freefall in home prices took a breather in April, but analysts caution that it's too soon to say that prices have reached a bottom. The index, which tracks prices in the 20 largest metro areas across the nation, was up 0.7 percent in April, largely due to the pickup in home sales usually seen in the spring. In fact, when the index is seasonally adjusted, prices actually fell 0.1 percent. As with most data in real estate, prices vary widely from city to city and region to region. Many areas remain entrenched in a rut, with prices falling continuously for several years now. While prices have been relatively stable in middle and upper class neighborhoods, prices for lower-priced homes have continued to fall. Some cities have seemingly reached a bottom in terms of home prices, while others are still falling. Washington, DC, for example, saw the biggest price increases in April, followed by San Francisco/Marin, Atlanta and Seattle. Prices have remained about the same for several months, meanwhile, in Los Angeles and San Diego. But prices in six of the index's 20 cities reached their lowest levels in almost four years in April. These cities were Charlotte, North Carolina, Detroit, Michigan, Chicago, Miami, TampaBay, and Las Vegas. Across the nation, prices have now fallen further since the housing market collapsed than they did in the Great Depression.
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