Home Prices Decline Third Month in a Row

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There are no signs yet of a bottom to this housing mess as national home prices decline three straight months in a row, down 5.8 percent quarter over quarter, according to a report released today.

Although the national home price declines have slowed, Clear Capital's November 2010 Home Data Index shows that 13 of the Top 50 metro markets measured have double dipped, up from six reported last month. That means the current price levels of those 13 cities are the lowest they've been since the housing downturn began.
"We are seeing twice as many markets seeing their lowest points," Alex Villacorta, senior statistician at Clear Capital told HousingWatch. "Four of them that are under significant downward pressure are in Florida. Markets in California are also in negative price declines but are 13.6 percent higher than its 2009 lows."

But there is a bright spot, he says.

"The positive bright spot about this report is the rate of declines are slowing," Villacorta says. The quarterly price change for the nation is only 0.8 percentage points lower than last month's report, compared to a downward jump of 4.8 percentage points the month prior.

"If the rate had continued through December it would be of the panic we saw in 2008, but the slowing shows it is not a freefall and that the slowing is attributed to the tax credit. It is encouraging that the market is stabilizing a bit."

Perhaps the worst of this downward turn has passed, but price trends from recent years indicate that winter price
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lows hang around through March, making it unlikely that there will be an end to these declines that started in August, until the second quarter of 2011 at the earliest.

Markets currently experiencing a double dip include: Charlotte, N.C.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Las Vegas; Miami; Nashville; Orlando, Fla.; Philadelphia; Portland, Ore.; Richmond, Va.; Seattle; Tampa; Tucson; and Virginia Beach, Va.

Tucson is leading the packs in terms of fresh new lows. The markets of Richmond and Nashville entered double dip territory this month, with prices dropping 4.0 percent and 1.4 percent below their previous lows in early 2010 and early 2009, respectively.

But some markets are faring better. Washington, D.C., maintains its positive price growth with prices now 15 percent above last year's lows. Average home prices in Denver remain only 18.5 percent below its all-time peak experienced in August 2005. Having avoided the extremes of the recent housing bubble, home prices in Denver subsequently fell by much smaller margins and have recovered more rapidly than the rest of the nation.

Despite Orlando making the highest performing list, it is experiencing new low home prices since the housing downturn began. In addition, the three other largest Florida markets (Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa) are also experiencing record lows. Weakness in tourism, particularly in the gulf coast following the oil spill, and a stale condominium market all limited gains in early 2010.

The Midwest region continued to lead quarterly price declines, posting near double-digit losses.
The Columbus and Milwaukee micro markets lead the Midwest downward with -15.3 percent and -14.6 percent quarterly price changes respectively.

The South region is the closest to setting new record lows, with prices just 2.3 percent above 2009 levels.

In terms of breaking this all down to an individual buyer's or seller's point of view, Villacorta says, "I think what it really comes down to for people who are going to buy is are they buying for the right reasons. Buy because you want a home not because you want an investment vehicle. The market has been so volatile, there is no guarantee that prices won't fall further."

For more on home prices and related topics see these AOL Real Estate guides:
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