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I wrote a story last week saying that the California Association of Realtors were readying to announce the first monthly home price rise in two years (one of a handful of signs that home prices might be bottoming). Turns out the median California home price did, indeed, increase by 2.2% in March compared to February, the Realtors group said April 28. But the $253,000 median was down 39% from March 2008.
The increase is encouraging, but it will have to happen consistently before it is safe to call a bottom in California. The unemployment rate is rising and more foreclosures are expected in coming months. So, prices could easily head back down into negative territory.
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.