Home Prices: Why Indexes Don't Matter

All those recent housing numbers -- most of them showing slipping values -- may not even be worth reading until we figure out what damage "foreclosure-gate" may have wrought on the industry. Yes, fall is traditionally one of the slowest real estate selling seasons; only the holidays are slower. But analysts in the mortgage industry are concerned that fallout from millions of foreclosures that may have been improperly filed -- many of which have been frozen -- could wreak havoc in coming months. Should you, home buyer/homeowner, be concerned?

Home values still appear to be sliding. The sky is falling the worst according to the folks at Clear Capital, who claim the most recent data and report home prices fell 5.9 percent in the past two months, when we finally broke free of the first-time homebuyer tax credit booster shot.

CoreLogic says values fell just 1.5 percent.

The National Association of Realtors, usually the most optimistic, says home prices nationally fell 2.2 percent in September 2010 from September 2009, when we thought it couldn't get any worse. It was almost the same story with Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac loans, which show home prices fell by 2.4 percent in August 2010 from August 2009.

About the only glimmer of hope was the S&P/Case-Shiller report showing that home prices rose 1.7 percent in the nation's top 20 markets, but warned us those gains are decelerating. Why would Case-Shiller be a happier report? It's a running average and includes only home resales, not new construction.

But maybe things aren't so bad.