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Index shows housing market slowly on the mend

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David Brancaccio: The price of single-family homes has dropped. An index for February out today looked at 20 American cities.

For context, let’s turn to Paul Habibi at Grayslake Advisors and a lecturer at U.C.L.A. Mr. Habibi, thanks for joining us.

Paul Habibi: My pleasure.

Brancaccio: So paint us a picture of the American housing market at this moment. How do you see it?

Habibi: Well, the housing market is currently on the mend. The Case-Shiller Index came out today, we’re seeing, out of the 20 cities, annual declines in most of them. But a few bright spots, places like Miami, like San Diego, and these are actually markets that are being led out of recovery primarily by investors who are buying up foreclosed houses, many in individual situations and many in the form of private equity funds.

Brancaccio: Now, I don’t want to be ‘David Downer’ here, but a place like Atlanta, year over year, it’s down about 17 percent.

Habibi: Yeah, Atlanta unfortunately continues to suffer from a very weak labor market. It’s also not very attractive towards a lot of institutional and individual investors who are looking to get into some of the markets that are showing kind of good long-term growth prospects. And it’s a tale of the haves and the have-nots, which has been really frankly the story in much of the real estate market over the last few years here.

Brancaccio: So your general posture is, you’re thinking you see a little bit of optimism in here? You see something upbeat in this?

Habibi: Well actually, I do. I think we’re seeing the foreclosure logjams start clearing out, and we’re actually seeing delinquency numbers go down pretty sharply. The overarching story now is that we are bottomed out but things take time to mend, and I think that’s what’s going happen over the next few years.

Brancaccio: Paul Habibi, Grayslake Advisors and U.C.L.A. Thank you very much.

Habibi: My pleasure.

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