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Case-Shiller Index shows falling home prices continue

Juli Niemann Jan 31, 2012

Jeremy Hobson: We got word today that home prices were still falling as of November. The S&P Case-Shiller Index says prices dropped in almost all of the cities it surveys.

For more, let’s bring in our regular Tuesday guest, Juli Niemann. She’s an analyst with Smith Moore and Company. She’s with us live, as always, from St. Louis. Good morning, Juli.

Juli Niemann: Good morning Jeremy.

Hobson: So granted, this is a few months old — this is the index for November — but still, how is it possible that we have not yet reached a bottom in the housing market?

Niemann: That dismal drone on housing still continues. There are only three cities that saw some kind of uptick: Washington — everybody wants to be in the Emerald City where all the folding green is. And then you’ve got Detroit, where a house and a car are the same price; the fastest land use is really urban farming these days. In Phoenix, you’ve got rising from the ashes there.

Everybody else has the same problem: record low interest rates but the banks aren’t lending. They won’t refinance existing mortgages, and it’s very difficult to get new mortgages. So you’re going to see more waves of foreclosures happening, and prices are compromised as a result.

Hobson: And of course, homeowners and banks do not want to take a loss yet. Are they being delusional by sitting around and waiting for the prices to come back up?

Niemann: Absolutely delusional. People know what they paid for their house and they want to at least get that out. But it’s going to be years before real demand returns, because over 40 percent of households in seven major cities are single people. Long-term demand may not come back — they don’t want that three bedroom, two bath American dream.

So if you really want to sell your house, you have to mark the price to what the market will bear. And people are still unwilling to do it, as are the banks.

Hobson: Juli Niemann, analyst with Smith Moore and Company,
thanks as always.

Niemann: You bet.

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