According to the Standard and Poors / Case-Schiller 4th Quarter 2011 Index of U.S. housing prices, 19 of the 20 markets in the 20 city composite index showed a continuing downward trend in housing prices. While the average change in price from October 2010 to October of 2011 was around -3.4%, Atlanta, GA was the weakest housing market in the U.S. with a change of -11.7% during this same period.
Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and foreclosure plagued Las Vegas also saw falling prices from late 2010 to late 2011. In general, the good news was that even though these numbers are not good, the October year over year averages were an improvement over the September numbers for 2010 - 2011.
So, while things are still not good, at least we may be seeing some early indicators of improvement. However, any good news about housing prices or sales should be viewed against the backdrop of knowing that the market has never been any lower and that housing is trying to overcome the steepest loss of value since record keeping began in 1963.
Statistically, by comparison, during the great depression of the 1930's housing values lost an over-all average of about 25% nationwide. Today, the over-all average loss of value nationwide is at about 32%, with the top foreclosure city, Las Vegas having lost roughly 60% since the housing crisis began in 2007. While existing homes sales were up in November, they are still hovering near their lows, at around 4 million units per year.
It's fair to say that at least the bad news is beginning to moderate, and perhaps we are approaching the end of the crisis, in that the rate of loss is slowing down. Of the twenty cities in the composite index, only Detroit, Michigan at +2.5% and Washington DC at +1.3%, actually saw a net improvement in average home prices during the October 2010-2011 time frame.
Also, these reports indicate that we've already had our double-dip in housing prices, and the goal at this point will be to avoid a "triple-dip", by sustaining any net improvement, no matter how small. Given the long time lag between real time and reporting of housing data, it will be mid 2012 or later before we can know for sure whether any kind of broad based improvement is really taking hold.
Click here to view the entire release for the 4th Quarter Standard and Poors, Case-Schiller Home Price Indices for 2011.
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