Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's a trend: home prices are increasing

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After the third straight month of price increases for the 20-market average, as well as the smaller 10-city composite, it's a wrap. The trend of higher home prices is on -- even if they are still down from a year ago.

by Broderick Perkins
© 2008 DeadlineNews.Com
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Deadline Newsroom - Home prices are still at 2003 levels, but after six months of improved home price index readings, it's official.

Home prices are trending up, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.

The national average of home prices increased 1.6 percent from June to July in 20 metro markets tracked by the report, but are still down 13.3 percent from a year ago.

However, after the third straight month of price increases for the 20-market average, as well as the smaller 10-city composite, it's a wrap.

The trend is on.

Whether the trend can sustain itself, given the highly popular first-time home buyer tax credit ends Nov. 30, that's the question.

Some say home price recovery is being artificially supported by the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit and artificial and unsustainable home price elevations is what left the housing market with the headache it has today.

"The rate of annual decline in home price values continues to decelerate and we now seem to be witnessing some sustained monthly increases across many of the markets," David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor's, said in a prepared statement.

"The two composites and all metro areas are showing an improvement in the annual rates of return, as seen through a moderation in their annual declines."

However, whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas and home price declines are no exception. Only Las Vegas (down 1.1 percent month to month and 31.4 percent for the year) and Seattle (down 0.1 percent for the month and 15.3 percent year-over-year) revealed month to month home price declines.

Blitzer said the report indicates a continued "stabilization in national real estate values," but added, "we do need to be cautious in coming months to assess whether the housing market will weather the expiration of the Federal First-Time Buyer's Tax Credit in November, anticipated higher unemployment rates, and a possible increase in foreclosures."

Both the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Home Builders are lobbying hard for an extension of the tax credit into next year.

NAR said 350,000 new buyers would not have purchased a home this year, ending in September, without the credit.

Opponents say enough ($15 billion) is enough. An extension would be too costly for taxpayers and the national budget.

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Broderick Perkins, an award-winning consumer journalist, parlayed 30 years of old-school journalism into a digital real estate news service, the San Jose, CA-based DeadlineNews Group, including DeadlineNews.Com, a real estate news and consulting service and Web site, and the Deadline Newsroom, DeadlineNews.Com's news back shop.

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National Offbeat News Examiner
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