Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Case-Shiller indices show continued falls in US house prices

House prices in 20 US cities fell 19 per cent in January compared with the same period a year ago, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price indices released on Tuesday. This is the fastest decline since record keeping for year-over-year declines began in 2001.

Consensus expectations of economists polled by Bloomberg had been for decline 18.6 percent from a year earlier.

The sharpest year on year declines were seen in Phoenix, where prices fell 35 per cent, and Las Vegas, which registered a 32.5 per cent fall. All 20 of the cities covered in the report posted both year on year and month on month declines.

S&P/Case-Shiller chart depicting annual returns of 10-City and 20-City home price indices

“There are very few bright spots that one can see in the data,” David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P, said in a statement. “Most of the nation appears to remain on a downward path.”

In a separate report, the Mortgage Bankers Association said its analysis showed a further decline in home loan origination volume in the fourth quarter of 2008. Commercial and multifamily mortgage debt outstanding remained relatively stable, the MBA said, noting:
Though economic pressures such as job losses and the decline in retail spending will continue to curtail originations and to raise the pressure on outstanding mortgages, expectations for the commercial mortgage market have been set so low that it may be hard to underperform them.

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