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Housing markets sending out mixed signals

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Steve Chiotakis: An important economic barometer is out today, and it’s a snapshot of housing market health — namely, how much houses are going for these days in nearly two dozen markets across the country. The latest reading shows home prices slipped. Or held steady. Or actually gained a bit. In other words, mixed signals indeed.

Marketplace’s Eve Troeh reports.

Eve Troeh: The Case-Shiller index compares home prices in 20 cities, and they were up from May to June of this year. But that’s likely skewed, because more people tend to buy houses in the early summer. If you adjust for that, prices are pretty much flat. And if you measure from June of last year, prices are down — more than 4 percent.

Mark Zandi at Moody’s Analytics says that’s due to the continuing parade of foreclosures on the market.

Mark Zandi: We’ve got more distressed sales coming. So I’d expect some more price declines later this year into early next.

He says all those foreclosures are going to be even harder to sell if the economy stumbles, and the U.S. loses jobs.

Zandi: But barring that, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the housing crash is very close to the end.

While the Case-Shiller index show this year’s buying season was lackluster, and it’s likely to be a slow winter — as banks put more foreclosures on the market — Zandi says next year’s buying season could show some real growth.

I’m Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

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