Miami Home Prices Rose in April, While the Foreclosure Rate Fell

Miami’s housing market got another double-barreled dose of good news from the numbers crunchers Tuesday: Home prices in the greater Miami area are up from their bargain-basement lows, while the percentage of homes in the foreclosure process — though still at jawdropping levels — continues to shrink.

Home prices in greater Miami rose 3.2 percent in April from a year earlier, according to S&P’s Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. For the Miami area, home prices are up month-over-month for five months in a row, beginning with December data, according to Case-Shiller.

On a national basis, home prices declined 1.3 percent in April for 10-city and 20-city composites tracked by Case-Shiller.

“Miami is definitely one of the markets that is on the mend,’’ said Maureen Maitland, a vice president at S&P Indices in New York. “Prices had fallen more than 50 percent from their peak in Miami. It gets to a point of how low can you go before you turn around.’’

Meanwhile, CoreLogic reported Tuesday that in the greater Miami area the foreclosure rate — the percentage of mortgages in some stage of foreclosure — fell to 17.43 percent in April, compared with 19.04 percent a year earlier.

While the Miami foreclosure rate has been declining steadily for more than a year, the foreclosure rate in the Miami area remained more than five times the national rate of 3.41 percent in April.

The foreclosure rate in Miami, which was an epicenter for financial speculation during the boom, hit its highest level — 19.13 percent — in March 2011, according to the Santa Ana, Calif.-based data firm.

The percentage of homes that are delinquent for 90 days or more dropped to 24.35 percent in April in Miami from 26.43 percent a year earlier.

“Miami is still sitting on a large overhang of delinquent loans, but the slow foreclosure process is only allowing a gradual flow of these homes into the market,’’ Michelle Meyer, an economist with BankofAmerica Merrill Lynch, said in a report.

Case-Shiller said 10 of the 20 cities in its composite showed year-over-year price increases, while 10 showed declines. Atlanta posted the biggest year-over-year price drop — 17 percent — marking its 22nd consecutive month of negative annual returns.

By contrast, Phoenix posted the biggest one-year increase in home prices, with a gain of 8.6 percent from April 2011.

By Martha Brannigan (Miami Herald)