U.S. Home Prices Continue to Tumble: OFHEO

As might be expected, July brought a continued decline in home prices nationwide — average prices fell 0.6 percent compared to one month earlier on a seasonally-adjusted basis, and 5.3 percent from average prices one year ago, according to data released Tuesday by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight. (Don’t worry: we were confused too, given that OFHEO has technically been replaced by the Federal Housing Finance Agency; but the release was, in fact, put out by the OFHEO). While all census divisions experienced depreciation in home prices from June to July, price declines ranged from a 1.1 percent drop in the Middle Atlantic division — New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania — to a mere 0.1 percent decline in the West North Central division, which sits squarely in the nation’s Midwest. That New York and surrounding states would lead the way in price drops during July is certainly telling, and marks a change from nearly year-long trends that found states such as California and Florida driving much of the nation’s housing price declines. Recent data has suggested a moderation of price declines in some of the nation’s hardest hit locales, evidence that was at least hinted at in the OFHEO data. The hard-hit Pacific region, which includes California and has seen home prices tumble 17.7 percent year-over-year, saw prices fall by 1 percent in July, compared to a 2.2 percent drop in June. That said, the OFHEO data suggests that the wild month-to-month swings, even while seasonally-adjusted, may be nothing more than noise: starting with February’s totals, the Pacific region has posted 0.5 percent, 3.1 percent, 2.1 percent, 1.0 percent, and 2.2 percent declines for each month leading up to July’s result in the region. If anything, that suggest instability more than an emerging trend. July’s 5.3 percent drop year-over-year contrasts with a 4.8 percent annualized drop recorded during June, suggesting that — at least for home tied to conforming mortgages — the nation’s housing price woes have yet to run their course. Read the full OFHEO report. For more information, visit http://www.ofheo.gov.

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