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After languishing since last summer even as the mid- and low-priced tiers rallied, the high-priced tier of the Case-Shiller home price index finally showed some signs of life.  The high tier of the index, comprising the most expensive one-third of homes sold during the measurement period, leapt 2.9 percent between February and March.  This puts to shame the middle tier, which rose by .5 percent, and especially the low tier, which actually fell by .2 percent.  That’s the first decrease in the low-priced tier since May 2009.

In aggregate, according to the Case-Shiller index, home prices have not had a down month since April 2009.  The overall index rose by 1.5 percent in March.

Here is a look at the various index tiers since the 2009 trough:

And since the 2005 peak:

And since January 2000:

While the most accurate aggregate price measure, the Case-Shiller index lags by a few months.  The data release discussed above concerns homes that sold in January, February, and March of this year.  It will be at least another month until we learn whether the index will validate the price weakness that showed up in April’s median price data.

— RICH TOSCANO

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