In December, Las Vegas posted its first quarterly price gain in three years at 1.1%, and while it registered a 27.4% decline for the year, it appears to be transitioning from “free-fall” to more normal trends, according to the Home Data Index (HDI) Market Report from Clear Capital, a real estate data provider. “Las Vegas was at the top of our least-performing list for quite sometime. It was the last market to bottom. The gain that we’re showing is just a reflection of how far we’ve come since the whole meltdown began in the first place,” Alex Villacorta , the senior statistician at Clear Capital, told HousingWire. After a volatile year of home price declines and hikes, 2009 ends with a 1.3% decrease from 2008, according to the report. “The reason why it has the appearance of being flatter or not volatile is because it has a zero-sum gain. We started the year with considerable decline, coming off the winter of 2008. Then as the spring came we saw a lot of positive gains in some of the markets. In the summer, some of those gains strengthened and spread to more markets,” Villacorta said. The point to keep in mind is that these increases came off of historic lows. So, home prices increased from an overall 40% decline from the peak, Villacorta said. To compare, 2008 prices had a 20.4% drop from 2007. The smaller 1.3% drop in 2009 stems from stirring activity at the bottom of the price chain, where investors drive the real estate owned (REO) market, Villacorta said. Demand might go up in 2010, as the REO saturation across the country dropped 16 percentage points from the start of 2009 to take up 25.5% of the market in December. On the quarterly scale, national prices increased 1.7% in December and remained positive across each region. Prices increased 4.1% in the Midwest, 1.2% in both the South and the West and 0.4% in the Northeast. Following its strong 14.1% increase in November, Detroit home prices climbed another 17.4% in December to lead all Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) once again. At the end of 2009, seven of the 15 highest performing markets reported yearly price gains. In 2008, there was only one. “After watching home prices plummet the past three years, it is encouraging to see the year close with minimal price declines,” said Kevin Marshall, Clear Capital’s president. “The stronger positive gains we saw this summer have softened into the fall and early winter, but it’s good to see that they’ve remained in positive territory.” Write to Jon Prior.
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