Thursday, July 31, 2008

US Home Prices Continue To Fall; Values Gain In Some Cities

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 30 July 2008

WASHINGTON : The decline in home values in major cities accelerated in May amid a lingering property slump, but prices in some areas showed improvement, a survey showed Tuesday.

A house for sale in Illinois.

The Standard and Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index - which tracks property prices across major metropolitan areas - registered a hefty fall of 15.8 percent in May compared with the same month a year ago, marking a record annual decline.

The benchmark index tracks property prices in 20 major US cities.

Home prices in the 20 large cities declined 0.9 percent on a monthly basis to May.

"The overall real estate market continued to slide in May," said David Blitzer, the head of S&P's index committee.

But the survey also showed that home prices in seven cities, Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis, and Portland, displayed monthly increases in May compared with April.

Property values in the Nevada gambling hub of Las Vegas and in Miami, Florida, continued to fall heavily, however.

The survey showed that property values slumped by 3.6 and 2.9 percent in Miami and Las Vegas respectively in the month to May.

Parts of California, Florida, Nevada and Ohio have been particularly badly hit by the lengthy US housing slump, especially neighbourhoods targeted for speculative construction projects.

"House prices will continue to drop because inventories of unsold homes remain high," said Patrick Newport, an economist at Global Insight.

"Recent progress on reducing inventories has been modest. This is bad news because inventories need to come down considerably for the housing market to equilibrate," Newport said.

Other economists believe the housing market slump is showing some signs of bottoming out.

The US housing market has been in a downturn for over two years following a multi-year boom which saw home sales and prices propelled higher, partly due to a speculative building frenzy in some states. - AFP/de

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