Home prices hit new lows in February, according to Case-Shiller

No surprise here. No reason to be alarmed.

The S&P/Case-Shiller home price indices are 3-month composites, so this release covers data stretching all the way back into 2011.

Many analysts think that home prices nationally may have bottomed in March or are bottoming right now. I’m not so sure about that, but even if we have hit bottom, there’s no reason to expect any sort of quick rebound. And many markets could see continued declines for the next couple of years.

From this morning’s press release:

Data through February 2012, released today by S&P Indices for its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices, showed annual declines of 3.6% and 3.5% for the 10- and 20-City Composites, respectively. This is an improvement over the annual rates posted for the month of January, -4.1% and -3.9%, respectively. In addition to the two Composites, 15 of the 20 MSAs posted better annual returns in February compared to January; Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit fared worse in February and Washington DC’s rate remained unchanged. Nine MSAs and both Composites posted new cycle lows as of February 2012. Atlanta had the only double-digit negative annual return at -17.3%. This was the fifth consecutive month of double-digit negative returns for Atlanta and the lowest annual return in its 20-year history

A graph:

And a chart:

I’ll have more to say about this later.