After six consecutive months of falling, the Case-Shiller 20-City Index showed signs of stabilizing in January with the index remaining virtually flat. However, there were sharp divergences in price paths across cities, with four (Phoenix, Washington, D.C., Miami and Minneapolis) showing gains of more than 1.0 percent in January. San Francisco and Portland each had price declines of 0.6 percent. Prices in Cleveland fell by 0.7 percent, and prices in Atlanta fell by 1.1 percent.

There have been some reports of rising rents in many areas, ostensibly due to the fact that people who have lost their homes are now being forced to find rental housing that is in short supply. This really does not make sense as a national phenomenon. Rental vacancy rates continue to be at near-record levels, exceeded only by the peaks reached in 2009 and 2010 near the trough of the recession.

There also is zero evidence of upward pressure on rents in the Consumer Price Index series. The owners' equivalent rent series, which pulls out the impact of utilities and exclusively measures rent of shelter, is below its pre-recession level after adjusting for inflation. If anything, it has trended slightly downward over the last two years.

For a more in-depth analysis, check out the latest Housing Market Monitor.

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