Doesn’t December feel like ages ago? To get in the seasonal mood for this blog post, feel free to pop in some holiday tunes and stare at the holiday cards still decorating your mantle — oh, is that just me?

One of the frustrating things about the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home price index is that it lags by two months. So the numbers that are out this morning reflect sales that happened in December.

But it’s still helpful to track this index, because it measures price changes in the same houses over time, rather than measures that look at just the homes that are selling.

December’s index, out this morning, showed San Diego County home prices rose 0.1 percent from the month before — the eighth straight month for which gains have been recorded.

December’s usually a weak month for home prices. In a version of the index that takes seasonal trends like that into account, the price gain looked even bigger — 1.1 percent.

That was exactly the same amount by which prices rose from October to November. But the rate of month-to-month growth was smaller than it had been earlier in 2009, like the 1.52 percent bump from July to August.

For the second straight month, prices were higher than they were a year ago.

The index release this morning called the Southwest part of the country a “bright spot,” with San Diego’s eight consecutive monthly gains leading the charge.

Here’s an analyst on the national housing market, David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Index Committee.

As measured by prices, the housing market is definitely in better shape than it was this time last year, as the pace of deterioration has stabilized for now. However, the rate of improvement seen during the summer of 2009 has not been sustained.

The S&P website seems to have crashed this morning so that’s all the numbers I can provide for now. We’ll have more for you later.

Anything in the market you want me to be asking about today as I report these numbers? Leave a comment and I’ll try to answer your questions.


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