The Case-Shiller 10- and 20-city composites show annual returns of 8.6% and 9.3%, respectively.<@SM>Index levels for the 10- and 20-city composites show home prices back at autumn 2003 levels.

NEW YORK CITY-Average home prices increased 9.3% year-over-year for S&P/Case-Shiller‘s 20-City Composite index, S&P Dow Jones Indices said Tuesday, while the 10-City Composite increased 8.6% in the same time frame. It marked the best showing for the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices since before the housing bubble burst.

“Home prices continue to show solid increases across all 20 cities,” says David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, in a release. He adds that both composites recorded their highest annual growth rates since May 2006. “Seasonally adjusted monthly data show all 20 cities saw higher prices for two months in a row—the last time that happened was in early 2005,” Blitzer says.

The indices reflect home prices, including single-family and multifamily, in February, and home prices in 16 of the 20 cities showed month-to-month as well as Y-O-Y growth. Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis and Phoenix were the exceptions.

That being said, the indices show Phoenix, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Atlanta leading the way with Y-O-Y price increases. “Atlanta recovered from a wave of foreclosures in 2012 while the other three were among the hardest hit in the housing collapse,” Blitzer says. At the other end of the rankings, three older cities—New York City, Boston and Chicago—saw the smallest year-over-year price improvements, he adds.

He notes that notwithstanding some recent mixed economic reports for March, “housing continues to be one of the brighter spots in the economy. The 2013 first-quarter GDP report shows that residential investment accelerated from the 2012 fourth quarter and made a positive contribution to growth.” An open question, says Blitzer, is the mix of single-family and apartments. Housing starts data give apartments “a larger than usual share.”

That housing prices have produced “six months of good news” indicates stability, Gary Painter, associate professor of policy, planning and development at the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, says in a statement. “If you look from market to market, you find pockets that can be considered ‘hot markets,’” he says. “While the numbers and this anecdotal evidence suggest certain markets have rebounded, prices have not shot up dramatically. ‘Hot markets’ are often a result of lack of inventory rather than positive market growth, which may explain the steady prices. As fundamentals continue to improve, however, you will begin to see more markets gaining momentum.”