A new housing price index suggested earlier this week that housing prices have fallen by 20.1 percent nationally between May 2007 and May of this year; fresh evidence that the nation’s housing woes have yet to subside. Integrated Asset Services, LLC, a Denver-based company that specializes in default management and residential collateral valuation, said that its IAS360 House Price Index for May 2008 found a 3.2 percent drop in house prices between April and May. An aggregated look across five U.S. census regions found evidence of widespread pricing weakness during the month, with the South facing the greatest struggle. States in the Southern Census Region saw prices fall an astounding 7.7 percent in one month alone, bringing annual regional price performance down 19.6 percent. While the monthly price drops in other census regions were comparatively more muted during May — ranging from a 1.1 percent to 2.2 percent decline — both the Midwest and West regions continued to turn in the nation’s worst annualized price performance, off 20.4 and 22.4 percent respectively from year-ago levels, IAS said. The majority of steep monthly price declines during May were centered in Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia — the South Atlantic census division — which saw prices fall 7.4 percent. Yet, despite the mounting price declines nationwide, some markets are clearly doing better than others. The East South Central census division — Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee — actually saw home prices rise by 4.1 percent in May, IAS said, and prices in the division have only fallen 4.3 percent on an annualized basis. Compare that to a 23 percent annual drop in the Pacific division, and the varied price performance across the nation become more clear. “While things look terribly gloomy on the national and regional level, there are some pockets of opportunity at the neighborhood and county level that are worth a look,” said Dave McCarthy, president and CEO of Integrated Asset Services. Using Denver as an example, Denver MSA house prices rose 0.4 percent for May, and posted a year-over-year decline of 16.5 percent. But drilling down to the county level data uncovers signs of improvement in places like Adams County, where house prices jumped 1.2 percent for the month of May. Denver County saw a 0.3 percent increase, and Arapahoe County a 0.6 percent increase after posting year-over-year declines of 18.0 percent and 14.6 percent, respectively. But Broomfield County, for example, posted a 4.8 decline for month, adding to a year-over-year decline of 18.5 percent in house prices within the county. “The housing market is a local phenomenon,” said McCarthy. “To get a clearer picture of the market, it is important to drill down to the county and the neighborhood level to begin seeing the trends that are truly moving the housing market.” For more information, visit http://www.iasreo.com.
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