NEW YORK | Tue Jul 31, 2012 10:01am EDT
(Reuters) - Single-family home prices rose for the fourth month in a row in May on a seasonally adjusted basis, suggesting the recovery in the housing market continued to gain traction, a closely watched survey showed on Tuesday.
The S&P/Case-Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas gained 0.9 percent in May on a seasonally adjusted basis, topping economists' expectations for a 0.5 percent gain.
On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, prices fared even better, jumping 2.2 percent.
"With May's data, we saw a continuing trend of rising home prices for the spring," David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor's, said in a statement.
Still, Blitzer cautioned that spring and summer are traditionally strong buying months and that gains need to continue into the rest of the year.
"The housing market seems to be stabilizing, but we are definitely in a wait-and-see mode for the next few months."
The rate of decline on a yearly basis moderated, with prices down 0.7 percent compared to a 1.9 percent drop in April.