Home Buyers Still Have Their Pick of the Litter

March 29, 2011

The housing market is off to a slow start this year as new data shows January home prices falling for the sixth straight month.

Included in that data is the news that housing prices in the Chicago real estate market have hit a record low.

Standard & Poor’s on Tuesday released its latest S&P/Case Shiller Home Price Index to show that home prices in January throughout the country’s 20 major cities fell an average of 3.1 percent from their January 2010 numbers and 1 percent from the prior month.

price reduced signHome prices have fallen more than 5 percent since the summer across those 20 major metropolitan areas and are now a mere 1.1 percent higher than they were at their lowest points in April of 2009.

Add this to the news that existing home sales were down almost 10 percent in February and new home sales recently hit a new record low, and you can see why experts aren’t being so optimistic.

“Keeping with the trends set in late 2010, January brings us weakening home prices with no real hope in sight for the near future,” said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor’s. “These data confirm what we have seen with recent housing starts and sales reports.

“The housing market recession is not yet over, and none of the statistics are indicating any form of sustained recovery.”

Of the top 20 cities measured by the index, 11 posted new lows since home prices peaked, including Chicago. These same cities posted lows with December’s index as well.

Chicago home prices fell 1.8 percent from December to January and are a whopping 7.5 percent lower than January 2010 home prices.

It seems that only Washington D.C. has weathered the housing storm. After marking increases from December to January (0.1 percent) and year-over-year (3.6 percent), Washington D.C. home prices are up almost 11 percent over their March 2009 lows.

“At most, we have seen all statistics bounce along their troughs,” said Blitzer, “at worst, the feared double-dip recession may be materializing.”

Let’s hope for surprisingly better news come Spring.

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