Home-price index hits new lows

A for sale sign stands in front of a home.

JEREMY HOBSON: Now let's get to the housing market. The Case-Shiller index says home prices in 12 of the 20 biggest metro areas in the country fell in March to their lowest levels since the housing crisis began.

Juli Niemann is an analyst with Smith Moore and Company. She's with us live from St. Louis, as she is every Tuesday. Good morning.

JULI NIEMANN: Good morning Jeremy.

HOBSON: Well, Juli, you've said we're in a double dip recession in housing. Do you think it's time to start calling it a depression?

NIEMANN: It definitely is. And there's no end in sight. We're down another 4 percent just since last summer. And a big problem is in the sand states of course -- Florida, Arizona, Nevada. California and D.C. were actually up this time. Stable -- Texas, mountain states. New York was down, and all the upper Midwest down.

HOBSON: And why are places like California, which had been doing worse, doing a little bit better this time?

NIEMANN: Well part of it is jobs. You know you've got confidence that you're not going to lose your job, loosening the purse strings, and we're starting to see it move up especially in California. Also, some of the California banks have started to accelerate their write off here. So you've got a lot of people who were underwater in their mortgages -- things are a little bit stabilizing here. So jobs is probably the key thing.

HOBSON: And Juli do you think this is this a situation where the rest of the economy can recover around housing? Or does housing drag everything else down?

NIEMANN: Well, at this point it's going to keep a long, slow, slog mode. Because depressed home building prices and everything related to real estate is going to keep that section of the economy down. Psychology of consumers is going to stay down, because if you're underwater in your existing home, you're not going to buy, especially when prices keep falling. And banking systems still has huge exposure. You're going to have Extreme Home Makeover edition here as they level a bunch of these things. A lot of them are in terrible condition.

HOBSON: Juli Niemann, analyst with Smith Moore and company, thanks so much.

NIEMANN: You bet.

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