That improved spring home selling season was no mirage. Home prices across the country did indeed improve in May, for the second month in a row, the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices reported Tuesday.

Seasonally adjusted prices were up 2.2% in May from April and 0.9% non-seasonally adjusted in both Case-Shiller’s 10-city and 20-city composites. That put May home prices across the country back up to where they were in 2003. 

That said, home prices for both composites were still a bit below what they were in May 2011, down 1% for the 10-market composite and 0.7% in the 20-market composite. While still a negative, those annual changes are the best Case/Shiller has reported in 18 months.

June sales data, too, is looking to be positive, the report said. “The housing market seems to be stabilizing, but we are definitely in a wait-and-see mode for the next few months,” David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices said in the announcement.

While the nation as a whole has improved, there are some markets that have improved more and others that are lagging the pack.

In Atlanta, for instance, a market that started declining later in the recession, home prices in May were down by 14.5% over last year.

Phoenix posted the largest annual increase in average home prices, up 11.5% in May. But it was also one of the hardest hit cities in the collapse. Even with that jump in average home prices it remained 50% below its peak average sales price in August 2006.

The story is similar for Los Vegas, which posted a positive monthly change and slowed its annual average sales price decrease. Prices there remain more than 60% below its August 2006 peak.

 Teresa Burney is a senior editor for Builder magazine.