The Housing Chronicles Blog: Phoenix the first market to see 50% declines in home prices

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Phoenix the first market to see 50% declines in home prices

Although the drop in the Case-Shiller index seems to be slowing in some markets, even the lower rate of decline has meant overall drops of well over 30% for most markets which participated in the housing boom and bust. In Phoenix, the total price decline since the crest was reached in 2006 has now passed 50%. From a New York Times story:

Phoenix has achieved the unwelcome distinction of becoming the first major American city where home prices have fallen in half since the market peaked in the middle of the decade, according to data released Tuesday.

Though historical statistics are scant, experts said the precipitous decline probably had few if any equals in modern times...

Home prices in the Sun Belt city, the 12th-largest metropolitan area in the United States, dropped 4.5 percent in February, according to the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Home Price Index. Prices in Phoenix are now down 50.8 percent since the market peaked in June 2006.

For the country as a whole, the Case-Shiller numbers offered the thinnest of silver linings: things are still getting worse, but more slowly.

In February, the price of single-family homes in 20 major metropolitan areas fell 18.6 percent from the year earlier, compared with a record drop of 19 percent in January.

“Finally, we’re seeing a touch of moderation,” said David Blitzer, chairman of S.& P.’s index committee. “This is the kind of thing one might see if we’re beginning to see a bottom. I would not run out and celebrate, but I would not dig the bunker any deeper.”

Economists said housing prices would probably continue to fall as Americans, worried about rising unemployment and the recession, put off big financial decisions like buying a home.

Some economists expect housing prices to fall another 5 to 10 percent before they hit a bottom; others say that prices could decline by as much as a third. According to the National Association of Realtors, the median price of a home in the United States, which peaked above $230,000 in 2006, has fallen to $175,200.

As prices have dropped, frozen housing markets in hard-hit areas like Southern California, Phoenix, Las Vegas and South Florida have begun to thaw. Record-low mortgage rates and huge inventories of foreclosed homes and other fire-sale properties have enticed first-time buyers to the market and lured others who had been sitting on the sidelines.

Home sales in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay area, where foreclosures dominate many markets, have snapped back this spring as prices dropped. But sales have slowed to a crawl in other markets like New York City, where prices declined 10 percent from a year ago...

And over at the Calculated Risk blog, there's a handy chart comparing the major metro areas studied by Case-Shiller, which you can find here.

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