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3Q house prices up but Clear Capital predicts 2012 dip

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Home prices rose nationally 3.5% in the third quarter over the previous quarter, according to the latest home data index from Clear Capital. Data shows that since mid-spring, national rolling quarter-over-quarter prices gained 3.5% through September, compared to a 4% change reported through August. Although prices are still up, the tide appears to be turning, Clear Capital said. The company forecasts a small skid in prices for the fourth quarter of 2011, and a continued slide through the end of the first quarter of 2012. Year-over-year price changes remain down 3.8%, the company said. At the regional level, the Midwest continues to lead the nation with a quarterly home price gain of 7.2%, followed by the Northeast at 3.5%, South at 3.2% and West at 0.3%. Clear Capital predicts U.S. home prices will drop 1.6% during the last three months of 2011, and 3.2% by the end of 1Q 2012. The projected drop through the first quarter of 2012 moves prices closer to where prices were during the first quarter of 2011  — the lowest since the downturn began, the company said. The third quarter home price data "show continued slowing of the price gains we’ve seen this year, especially across the spring and summer months," said Alex Villacorta, director of research and analytics at Clear Capital. “The housing market has yet to demonstrate the fundamentals necessary to overcome a seasonal slowdown over the next six months, which drives our projected 3.2% drop in national home prices through the first quarter of 2012," he said. REO saturation improved across the country with only slightly more than 25% selling as distressed, down 9.2 percentage points since May and down 15.6 percentage points since the peak in the first quarter of 2009. (Click on chart to expand.) Write to Kerry Curry. Follow her on Twitter @communicatorKLC.

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