Nearing The Bottom?

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The new housing numbers are out. House values are still declining, but the rate at which they are declining has finally started to slow. Free Exchange analyzes:

The headline number is a pretty good one; Year-over-year prices are off 18.1%, down from 18.7% in March and a better figure than forecast. Perhaps more importantly, 8 of the 20 markets followed by Case-Shiller saw a rise in their index value in April. The increases were widespread—markets from San Francisco, to Denver, to Cleveland, to Boston, to Washington, to Dallas saw a tick upward. The hardest hit markets still posted declines in prices, some large, but the rate of decline slowed across the board.

It's good news, though times will continue to be difficult in home markets for some time to come. A large number of new purchases, particularly in the major bubble markets, are foreclosure or otherwise distressed sales. And while a bottom in home prices will likely bring a flood of buyers into the market hoping to buy at the lowest price available, it will also bring "shadow inventory" online—homes for sale by owners who had been waiting for markets to level off. In markets with large existing inventory, the dynamic will probably favour renewed downward pressure on prices.

–PA