How closely related are job losses and housing prices? Very close, according to Integrated Asset Services, a mortgage consulting firm which found a direct correlation between home prices and initial unemployment claims.
Integrated reports home prices in the Midwest fell the most in March, with a 2.5% drop. At the same time, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the region registering the highest number of initial unemployment claims (81,957) for the same period. Among the other regions, home prices fell 1.3% in the South, 0.8% in the West, and remained unchanged in the Northeast, which reported the smallest number of initial jobless claims.
Overall, though, the slide in housing prices is slowing. Integrated’s index of national house prices fell 1.0% in March. That compares to 3.0% drop in February and a 3.5% plunge in January. On a year-over-year basis, U.S. house prices are down 13.9%, with a full 10.7% coming since September when the economy began unwinding. Integrated reports prices are down 17.7 % from the height of the real estate bubble in 2006.
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.