Downtown. It’s everywhere you want to be.

Tuesday’s Personal Journal in the WSJ takes a long look at where housing prices are holding up best — not surprisingly, it’s key downtown metros in some of the nation’s larger cities. From the story:

Much has been made of the way the nation’s real-estate bust is affecting some American cities far more than others. But even within a single metro area, changes in housing prices can show wild variations. And in big cities, prices in the central cores often fare the best. Far-flung suburbs — where home building exploded in recent years — have more typically gotten hammered. In between is a patchwork of established suburbs and city neighborhoods peripheral to downtown that can be all over the map in terms of price declines — or even increases.

Much of the housing slump has been felt in the suburbs, obviously. But the point about how housing strength can vary even down to the neighborhood level is one worth noting, especially as investors begin to put strategies together for distressed mortgages and valuing asset pools. Denver-based Integrated Asset Services has been getting a lot of attention from secondary market participants in this regard, as it looks to roll out a new home price index called The Intelligent Market Volatility Index, or iMVI. Their product, first introduced in February of this year, looks at pricing variations down to the street level — and we know, because IAS’ Ryan Tomazin was kind enough to show us the product while in Boston for the recent MBA Secondary Markets convention. On our end as a media outlet, we’re looking forward to June; that’s when IAS is slated to roll out a national pricing index that will compete with the Case-Shiller, First American and OFHEO repeat-sales indices; given the granular data that will go into generating pricing trends, we’ll be very interested to see what sort of information the new index will provide in terms of housing market insight.

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3d rendering of a row of luxury townhouses along a street

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