Sunday, October 3, 2010

July uptick in home prices won't last, experts sayThe Case-Shiller index shows a slight increase from June, but economists expect a looming glut of repossessed homes flooding the market to drag values down. - Los Angeles Times

Economists said they expected weak growth in housing and a decline in home prices this year despite a report Tuesday indicating that home valuations crept up in July.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index of 20 metropolitan areas showed that prices of previously owned single-family homes rose 0.6% in July from June and 3.2% over July 2009.

The closely watched index encompasses data from May, June and July. Although sales plummeted in July they were bolstered by popular federal tax credits for buyers in May and June. Other housing indicators, such as starts for new construction and some price measures, also have shown weakness.

"The housing market is in awful shape; it is probably as bad as it has been in 60 years," said Patrick Newport, U.S. economist for consultancy IHS Global Insight. "You have weak demand, a lot of foreclosures and a big glut, and even though the Case-Shiller numbers were up for the month, we still think they are going to drop."

Separately, an index of consumer confidence fell to a seven-month low in September after having improved in August, according to data released Tuesday, underscoring concern Americans have about the economy and their future prospects.

The market for previously owned homes swooned in July, with sales dropping 27% to the lowest level in more than a decade after the boost from the federal tax credit evaporated, according to the National Assn. of Realtors. That number improved somewhat in August, rising 7.6%, but was not enough to stir confidence that the housing market would recover robustly this year.

Celia Chen, a housing economist for Moody's, said she expects prices to fall as more banks step up their repossession of homes through foreclosure and put those properties back on the market. Lenders have been seizing houses at a record clip this year, taking back 95,364 U.S. properties in August, according to Irvine-based RealtyTrac, the highest monthly total in the research firm's records.

"Eventually those homes are going to end up as discounted for-sale homes and will pull down prices," Chen said. "So we are in for weakness."

Prices in 12 of the 20 cities measured by the Case-Shiller index increased in July over June. The nonseasonally adjusted index showed home prices in California cities continued to appreciate, with Los Angeles up 0.3% from June, San Diego up 0.7% and San Francisco up 0.5%.

by Alejandro Lazo Los Angeles Times Spetember 29, 2010

July uptick in home prices won't last, experts say. The Case-Shiller index shows a slight increase from June. - Los Angeles Times

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