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Home prices still poised to drop 5% by early 2012, say JPMorgan analysts

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JPMorgan Chase (JPM) stuck to their outlook Friday, forecasting home prices in the U.S. could plunge another 4% to 5%, before reaching a bottom in early 2012. Analysts at the bank originally lowered their prediction on future home prices in June. If prices continue to fall at this rate, they will be down 37% from their peak when they finally reach a bottom. JPMorgan Chase analysts said a drop in distressed home sales activity buoyed prices a bit in the past few months, with the CoreLogic (CLGX) home price index rising for the third straight month in June, edging up 0.7%. Tighter underwriting standards across the board remain a challenge, with many borrowers unable to qualify for loans. "Without a fundamental improvement in the demand-supply imbalance, both seasonality and distressed sales may turn against us in the coming winter and push home prices lower," Chase analysts said. Analysts said leading indicators in May suggested near-term improvements, but they also noted potential risks tied to a double-dip recession combined with headwinds from the U.S. debt downgrade and the European debt crisis. Even though more consumers are turning to rental properties, JPMorgan said rising rental prices could eventually push potential homeowners off the fence, encouraging them to buy properties. Write to: Kerri Panchuk.

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