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Home Prices Falling Across the Country

photo: cafemama via Flickr

The new Case-Shiller data of home prices for October show that prices are dropping nationwide more than expected. Continuing problems with foreclosure fraud and the end of programs like the first-time homebuyer’s tax credit which propped up the markets can be seen as the culprits.

Data through October 2010, released today by Standard & Poor’s for its S&P/Case-Shiller1 Home Price Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices, show a deceleration in the annual growth rates in 18 of the 20 MSAs and the 10- and 20-City Composites in October compared to what was reported for September 2010. The 10-City Composite was up only 0.2% and the 20-City Composite fell 0.8% from their levels in October 2009. Home prices decreased in all 20 MSAs and both Composites in October from their September levels. In October, only the 10-City Composite and four MSAs – Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington DC – showed year-over-year gains. While the composite housing prices are still above their spring 2009 lows, six markets – Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami, Portland (OR), Seattle and Tampa – hit their lowest levels since home prices started to fall in 2006 and 2007, meaning that average home prices in those markets have fallen beyond the recent lows seen in most other markets in the spring of 2009.

Different areas which experienced different housing bubbles have different rates of change, but the trend is downward basically everywhere. And they’re falling in some leading indicator areas to the lowest depths of the entire housing crisis.

I don’t know how you have an economic recovery with home prices falling. Many believe they need to fall, but I’d argue they need to stabilize, through modification programs with principal reduction to stop the tide of foreclosures which has deteriorated prices and sent more homeowners underwater. The only way to break the vicious cycle of foreclosures-lower home prices-more underwater borrowers-foreclosures is through stabilization. And the fraudulent securitizations provide an opportunity in that arena.

As Paul Krugman and Robin Wells indicate, no Congressional action is necessarily for this stabilization to begin – the HAMP program could be put to this purpose, and the Administration could employ Fannie and Freddie, who own or guarantee a substantial amount of the nation’s mortgages, to the end of refinancing or principal reduction. So far, the GSEs’ oversight executive has resisted this. But with these numbers, Fannie and Freddie are only doomed for bigger losses down the road if they don’t cut bait and do what’s necessary to stop the destruction of property wealth and keep people in their homes.

CommunityThe Bullpen

Home Prices Falling Across the Country

The new Case-Shiller data of home prices for October show that prices are dropping nationwide more than expected. Continuing problems with foreclosure fraud and the end of programs like the first-time homebuyer’s tax credit which propped up the markets can be seen as the culprits.

Data through October 2010, released today by Standard & Poor’s for its S&P/Case-Shiller1 Home Price Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices, show a deceleration in the annual growth rates in 18 of the 20 MSAs and the 10- and 20-City Composites in October compared to what was reported for September 2010. The 10-City Composite was up only 0.2% and the 20-City Composite fell 0.8% from their levels in October 2009. Home prices decreased in all 20 MSAs and both Composites in October from their September levels. In October, only the 10-City Composite and four MSAs – Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington DC – showed year-over-year gains. While the composite housing prices are still above their spring 2009 lows, six markets – Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami, Portland (OR), Seattle and Tampa – hit their lowest levels since home prices started to fall in 2006 and 2007, meaning that average home prices in those markets have fallen beyond the recent lows seen in most other markets in the spring of 2009.

Different areas which experienced different housing bubbles have different rates of change, but the trend is downward basically everywhere. And they’re falling in some leading indicator areas to the lowest depths of the entire housing crisis.

I don’t know how you have an economic recovery with home prices falling. Many believe they need to fall, but I’d argue they need to stabilize, through modification programs with principal reduction to stop the tide of foreclosures which has deteriorated prices and sent more homeowners underwater. The only way to break the vicious cycle of foreclosures-lower home prices-more underwater borrowers-foreclosures is through stabilization. And the fraudulent securitizations provide an opportunity in that arena.

As Paul Krugman and Robin Wells indicate, no Congressional action is necessarily for this stabilization to begin – the HAMP program could be put to this purpose, and the Administration could employ Fannie and Freddie, who own or guarantee a substantial amount of the nation’s mortgages, to the end of refinancing or principal reduction. So far, the GSEs’ oversight executive has resisted this. But with these numbers, Fannie and Freddie are only doomed for bigger losses down the road if they don’t cut bait and do what’s necessary to stop the destruction of property wealth and keep people in their homes.

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David Dayen

David Dayen