RTTNews - New data released Tuesday showed that home prices continued to decline sharply in April, though the slide moderated a bit from the previous month.

The continued moderation in the drop in home price has sparked some cautious optimism that the housing market could be reaching a bottom.

The S&P Case-Shiller Index, a closely watched measure of home prices, showed a 0.6 percent decline from March to April, according to a survey of prices in 20 U.S. cities. This represented a drop of 18.1 percent compared to the same period last year.

While still a notable decline, the slide in April was more modest than the drop seen in the previous month. In March, home prices were down 2.2 percent from the previous month and down 18.7 percent from the previous year.

On a 10-city basis, the data showed a 0.7 percent drop in April compared to the previous month and an 18 percent slide from the previous year.

Home price declines have been moderating over the last several months after showing a record annual decline in January, when the 20-city index was down 19 percent from the previous year and the 10-city index showed a 19.4 percent drop.

While one month's data cannot determine if a turnaround has begun, it seems that some stabilization may be appearing in some of the regions, David Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor's, said of the data.

Noting that the stock market bottomed in March and consumer confidence has improved lately, Blitzer added, This report shows that these better spirits are also appearing in the housing market.

Seventeen of the 20 cities included in the report showed declines from the previous month. Meanwhile, Charlotte had a 0.3 percent rise in April compared to March, while Dallas and Denver each saw home prices edge up 0.1 percent.

Even though most of the cities continued to show declines from the previous month, 13 of the 20 had more moderate slides in April than in the previous month.

Compared with last year, all of the 20 cities showed lower home prices. Denver and Dallas had the most modest declines from April 2008, showing decreases of 4.9 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

The sharpest yearly decline took place in Phoenix, where prices dropped 35.3 percent. One-time boomtown Las Vegas also saw home prices fall by nearly a third from last year. The S&P Case-Shiller Index showed a 32.2 percent decline for the gambling capital of the U.S.

From their peak in mid-2006, homes in Phoenix have lost more than half their value, with a 54.1 percent drop. Of the 20 cities in the index, Dallas has held up the best from its peak, with prices falling only 9.6 percent from the highs in June 2007.

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