Bloomberg News

Home Prices in 20 U.S. Cities Decrease More Than Forecast

November 30, 2011

Nov. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Residential real estate prices dropped more than forecast in the year ended September, showing the industry at the center of the 2008 financial crisis continues to struggle.

The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values in 20 cities dropped 3.6 percent from September from the same month in 2010 after decreasing 3.8 percent in the year ended August, the group said today in New York. The median forecast of 32 economists in a Bloomberg News survey projected a 3 percent decrease.

Unemployment at 9 percent, tight lending standards and a looming supply of distressed properties that may drag down home values further will probably keep hurting housing demand into next year. Sliding prices have left some people with loans that exceed the value of their properties, preventing them from boosting spending on other goods and services.

“Housing probably won’t go anywhere for the next couple of years,” Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics LLC in Pepper Pike, Ohio, said before the report. “We’re just mired in this swamp with a huge overhang of distressed properties that prevents the market from gaining any traction.”

Estimates in the Bloomberg survey for the price change ranged from declines of 2.7 percent to 3.9 percent. The Case- Shiller index is based on a three-month average, which means the September data were influenced by transactions in July and August.

The year-over-year decline in September was the smallest in seven months.

September Decrease

Home prices adjusted for seasonal variations fell 0.6 percent in September from the prior month after falling 0.3 percent in August. Unadjusted prices also decreased 0.6 percent from August as 17 of 20 cities showed declines. Only Washington, New York and Portland, Oregon, showed gains.

Atlanta, Las Vegas and Phoenix posted new post peak lows in September, the report showed.

The year-over-year gauge provides better indications of trends in prices, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller group. The panel includes Karl Case and Robert Shiller, the economists who created the index.

Eighteen of the 20 cities in the index showed a year-over- year decline, led by a 9.8 percent drop in Atlanta.

Detroit showed the biggest year-over-year increase, with prices rising 3.7 percent in the 12 months to September. Property values in Washington were up 1 percent.

Prices Nationally

Nationally, prices decreased 3.9 percent in the third quarter from the same time in 2010. They increased 0.1 percent from the previous three months before seasonal adjustment and dropped 1.2 percent after taking those changes into account.

A pipeline of seized properties threatens to weigh on prices even more as a temporary halt on foreclosures stemming from faulty seizures comes to an end. In the third quarter, U.S. lenders started foreclosures on more homes, the first increase in a year, as bank moratoriums that clogged the pipeline abated.

“Housing market activity remained very weak,” minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee’s Nov. 1-2 meeting showed last week. “The large overhang of foreclosed and distressed properties along with limited demand in an environment of uncertainty about future home prices and tight underwriting standards for mortgage loans” weighed on the market, it said.

Builders, which are competing with the 3.33 million unit glut of previously owned homes, sold fewer new houses in the U.S. than forecast in October, Commerce Department data showed yesterday. Demand is on pace to reach 301,000 this year, less than the 323,000 homes sold in 2010, which marked the fewest sales since data-keeping began in 1963.

“We’re in a market that’s quite fragile,” Ara Hovnanian, chairman and chief executive officer of Hovnanian Enterprises Inc., said during a Nov. 9 investor conference. “While delinquency rates have taken a little dip, on the whole, there is nothing that says that foreclosures are going to change dramatically over the near term, however you define that.”

--With assistance from Chris Middleton in Washington. Editors: Carlos Torres, Vince Golle

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Kowalski in Washington at akowalski13@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net


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