Interest Rate Roundup

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

S&P/Case-Shiller index for November -- prices down 7.7% YOY

The latest S&P/Case-Shiller figures show home prices falling (PDF link) at an ever-faster rate. In the month of November ...

* Prices fell 7.7% from a year earlier in 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas. That was worse than the 6.1% decline reported in October and the biggest drop on record.

* The 10-city index has a longer history. It declined 8.4% year-over-year. That was worse than the 6.7% drop in October and the worst since S&P started tracking in the late 1980s.

*Prices fell from year-ago levels in 17 out of 20 cities, the same as last month. The biggest declines were found in Miami (-15.1%), San Diego (-13.4%), Las Vegas (-13.2%), and Detroit (-13%). The best performing cities were still Charlotte and Seattle, but even there, the rate of appreciation is slowing. Prices in Charlotte were up 2.9%, down from a 4.3% rise a month earlier, while prices in Seattle were up just 1.8%, compared with 3.3% a month earlier.

The latest home price figures -- from the Realtors' group, the Census Bureau and S&P/Case-Shiller -- all tell the same story: Home prices are deteriorating, and the rate at which they are falling is accelerating. Even formerly strong markets appear to be weakening now as consumer confidence slumps and the mortgage market tightens up.

It's worth pointing out, however, that lower prices are exactly what we need to restore longer-term health to the housing market. Falling prices will make homes more affordable, making it so potential buyers no longer need to turn to high-risk financing to put a roof over their heads. Falling prices will also help clear the vast inventory overhang plaguing home sellers, allowing for an eventual recovery.


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