Home prices improved across the country in July, according to the latest reading from the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, released today. All 20 cities and both composites saw improvement for the third consecutive month, with gains of more than 1% in 13 MSAs on a non-seasonally adjusted basis. The 10-city composite was up 1.5% for the month, and the 20-city rose 1.6%.

Annual returns also improved in July compared to June in 15 of the MSAs tracked and in both composites. Even Atlanta, which had suffered nine consecutive months of double digit annual declines previous to July, improved; however, with an annual rate of -9.9%, the beleaguered metro was still the worst in the group.

"The news on home prices in this report confirms recent good news about housing," said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, in a release discussing the numbers. "Single-family housing starts are well ahead of last year’s pace, existing-home sales are up, the inventory of homes for sale is down, and foreclosure activity is slowing. All in all, we are more optimistic about housing."

On a monthly basis, the largest jump came from Minneapolis, which saw prices improve by 3.7%, followed by Detroit with a 3.3% gain. On a yearly basis, Phoenix shot ahead of every other area with a 16.6% jump.

Overall, both composite indices in July were about 8.0% higher than their recent 2012 lows. "Upbeat trends continue," Blitzer said. "The positive news in both the monthly and annual rates of change in home prices over the past few months signals a possible recovery in the housing market."

See S&P’s full report discussing home prices in July, including data for individual metro areas.

Claire Easley is a senior editor at Builder.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Phoenix, AZ, Detroit, MI, Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN.