Home prices in lackluster markets return to 1997 levels
Real estate prices in a few U.S. markets are back to levels not seen in a decade, according to data released by John Burns Real Estate Consulting on Friday. In a report titled, "Back to the Future: Median Home Prices Mirror Years Past," the study's author Gregory Tsujimoto says prices in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Oakland have fallen back to 1997 levels, while healthier markets throughout Texas are hovering at 2006 levels, suggesting the state's brighter employment prospects are preventing steep drops. The markets performing the best include Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio. All other markets fall somewhere in between the two extremes, with prices hanging somewhere between 2002 and 2004 levels. In the past few months, several markets did experience an increase in the median home price, creating a situation where affordability is beginning to decline slightly in some areas. Even still, home prices are at extreme lows, while the cost of renting has increased, according to Tsujimoto's housing market update. Consumer behavior in the past month remained unchanged, with John Burns Real Estate grading consumer sentiment at the D-plus level. Overall consumer sentiment decreased in July even as consumer debt levels improved, the research firm said. Write to: Kerri Panchuk.