The National Association of Realtors today was out with numbers confirming what everyone connected to the housing business already knows: prices are falling in most markets and nearly all that would be considered desirable.
In the first quarter, 100 of 149 metropolitan statistical areas showed declines in median existing single-family home prices, the NAR reported. Nationally, the decline was 7.7%, to a median price of $196,300.
On the flip side, 48 markets showed price increases, with one unchanged.However, many of those markets contain relatively inexpensive housing stock and are located in economically depressed places such as the rust belt and Upstate New York. Among markets with price appreciation were several in Washington state, Texas, North Carolina, Iowa and North Dakota.
Regionally, prices were up 3.2% to $280,000 in the Northeast, despite declines in Boston, New York and Washington and a marginal decline around Philadelphia. The Midwest was down 7.9% to $142,700, the South down 7.5% to $164,200 and the West down 12.3% to $296,300.
The NAR blamed the declines on a proportionately larger slowdown in home sales from a year ago in high-cost markets, which is continuing to drag down the aggregate national median price. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said, "These are highly unusual results because there were very few jumbo loan originations in the latest quarter, so sales are much slower in high-cost areas, and at the same time foreclosures related to subprime mortgages rose. Neighborhoods with little subprime exposure are holding on very well, while prices have fallen in neighborhoods with a wide prevalence of subprime loans because more foreclosed properties are being sold at discounted prices."