Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Housing Slump is Nation Wide

An article in today's NY Times presents an analysis [selected paragraphs are provided below] of the S&P/Case-Shiller data that was released this week.

The slide in American home prices is going national, rendering obsolete the old saying that the three factors that matter in real estate pricing are location, location and location.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller indexes of home prices, which began in 1987 and now cover 20 broad metropolitan areas, have showed price declines in every market in only two months — September and October of this year.

September and October were the first months ever in which the S.& P./Case-Shiller indexes failed to show any market with at least a 5 percent annual gain...

While the current slowdown affects all markets, it is generally worse in those that went up the most in the housing boom. During the five-year period that ended in July 2006 — when national housing prices peaked, according to the indexes — seven markets showed compound annual gains of at least 14 percent. Since the peak, all seven markets are among the bottom eight. [It's me. This includes DC, which went up more than 15% annually in the period July 2001 - July 2006, shown in the chart accompanying the article, and has since declined 7%]. What goes up the most does come down the most, or so it appears.

In the early 1990s there was something close to a national weakening of home prices during and after the 1991 recession. But at the low point, the S.& P./Case-Shiller indexes still showed annual price gains in five of the 17 markets the indexes then covered. And there were no months when at least one market did not show a gain from the previous month.

Now prices appear to be weakening everywhere.

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