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IAS Sees 'Normalization' in House Prices

US home prices remain down 13% year-over-year as of April, but the pace of decline in prices seems to have leveled off, according to IAS360 data released Tuesday morning. “It’s too soon to call this a turn in the housing market, particularly given all the political and regulatory uncertainties,” said Dave McCarthy, president and CEO of Integrated Asset Services. “I think that we’re still in for some difficult spells ahead, but we are seeing a certain kind of pricing equilibrium in several important markets. That’s encouraging for the long term.” Four of the country's largest metropolitan areas -- San Diego, Boston, Chicago, and Denver -- now show positive month-over-month gains in home prices. San Diego values are up 0.2%, while Boston and Chicago prices are up 0.8%. Home prices in Denver sit a significant 2.2% above values the previous month. Three of the four US census regions posted stable or positive price activity in April. Only the South, which includes several hard-hit Florida communities, was down for the month, dropping 0.3%. Still, the the trend line in the South was flattening, showing less volatility, said Integrated Asset Services. Rick Foos, president of SRA Foos & Associates, Inc. says inventory levels are declining and sales are increasing particularly in the lower priced markets due to a combination of incentives and low interest rates; altogether, creating a positive outlook for the entire market. However, Foos says if interest rates rise, boosting foreclosures, the market could experience a false bottom. "But if neither materializes to a great degree then it does appear the market may have bottomed." IAS360 data also shows signs of normalization, or at least a return to seasonality, in California. Arguably the hardest hit state in the US, California is home to six of the ten hardest-hit counties in the country. In April, however, counties up and down the state, including Monterey, San Bernadino, Ventura, Riverside, Sacramento, Sonoma and King, reported upticks in home prices. San Diego, down almost 24% from its high in 2007, has reported three consecutive months of stable prices. Write to Kelly Curran.

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