Brookfield, Wis.-based Fiserv, Inc. (FISV) said late Tuesday that it had decided to roll out its own monthly updates to the nearly ubiquitous Case-Shiller indices it already supplies to Standard & Poor’s; the company said in a press statement that its own Case-Shiller updates will include data covering more than more than 375 U.S. housing markets. The company’s S&P/Case-Shiller distribution agreement includes 20 major MSAs, in comparison. The timing of the announcement comes as competition in the home price index and real estate data space has become intense; the use of particular indices by investors and related groups can drive significant revenue and market presence for supplying firms. The company’s first release of its Case-Shiller data finds that while home prices across the U.S. have fallen 14 percent, some metropolitan markets are showing notable resilience against the national downward trend. The markets outperforming national trends, which include Nashville and several other southeastern U.S. metro areas outside of Florida, share a number of characteristics: they never got caught up in the housing bubble, homes remain affordable and a relatively strong local job market is helping sustain demand. In the Nashville metro area, for example, median home prices have held steady over the past year at $156,000. This is about 20 percent below the U.S. median house price of $196,000 in the first quarter of 2008. “The bursting of the housing bubble is playing out in one of several ways in metro areas across the U.S.,” said David Stiff, Fiserv economist. “A deeper look at home prices in a broader set of markets shows there are regional exceptions to the national story. Those markets have avoided both the housing bubble that fueled the crisis as well as a weakening labor market that is making it worse in other cities.” Nashville is far from alone, according to Fiserv’s statistics. Of the more than 375 metropolitan statistical areas analyzed, approximately 63 percent have posted year-over-year increases in home prices and another 12 percent experienced price declines of less than 5 percent. The pockets of resilience in home prices included metro areas in Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, Colorado and several other Tennessee cities. The markets where home prices have increased or declined by less than 5 percent over the last year represent a total population of approximately 120.5 million people. Of the 88 metro areas with declines topping 5 percent, 56 were in the states of California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona. “In the hardest hit markets, prices have already fallen by more than 30 percent, and are edging closer to 40 percent in certain markets,” said Stiff. “There is still room for them to fall, with price declines of 50 percent likely in what were once the most overheated and over-built markets.” Stiff cautioned, however, that even metro markets that have avoided falling prices to date are likely to begin feeling the pressure of a mortgage industry that is increasingly being squeezed. “Even though the long-term demand fundamentals in markets like Nashville are good, prices may go flat or fall as banks scale back mortgage lending. We’re already seeing some potential buyers on the sidelines amid the mortgage crisis and shutdown in non-conventional mortgage lending.” For more information, visit http://www.fiserv.com. Disclosure: The author held no positions in FISV when this story was published; indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.
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