Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Some housing markets turn to gold, others go cold

Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountain prices climbing
Tuesday, May 22, 2007

While home prices lulled in many regions across the country during the descent from a prolonged real estate Gold Rush, rapid appreciation has continued in major Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain markets.

The U.S. Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, a federal agency that monitors government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington and Oregon had the steepest home-price appreciation in fourth-quarter 2006 compared to fourth-quarter 2005.

In fourth-quarter 2006, the top five metro areas for year-over-year price appreciation on OFHEO's list were in Oregon, Washington, Utah and Idaho, while the sharpest metro-area price declines were in Indiana, California and Michigan. OFHEO's first-quarter-index report is due out later this month.

Seattle and Portland were among the strongest markets in fourth-quarter 2006 for home-price appreciation among 20 U.S. markets featured in the monthly Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller Home Price Index.

While price growth has been slowing, it is still strong -- this year will be a good year, he said, though 2006 was not as strong as 2005, "and I think 2007 is not going to be as good as 2006." Single-family home sales fell 12 percent in 2006 compared to 2005, and affordability is a growing problem.

Nationwide, the median price of resale homes fell about 2.7 percent in fourth-quarter 2006 compared to fourth-quarter 2005, the National Association of Realtors reported, while the Census Bureau reported that the median new-home price dropped about 2 percent.

NAR reported that the Cumberland, Md.-W.V., metro area had the strongest price appreciation in the first quarter compared to first-quarter 2006, followed by Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas; Gulfport-Biloxi, Miss.; Salem, Ore.; and Bismarck, N.D. Other markets that were on the top-10 list for price appreciation were in New Mexico, Utah, Washington, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Salt Lake City and Salem, Ore., were in the top five for price appreciation in NAR's fourth-quarter report, and markets in New Jersey and Texas also topped the list.

Median year-over-year price change for fourth-quarter 2006
City Case-Shiller* NAR (existing homes) OFHEO Zindex (Zillow) DataQuick

National 0.4 -2.7 5.9 -0.48 N/A

Portland, 11.57 11.2 13.45 11.39 10.6
Seattle 13.05 11.3 14.5 12.87 11.3

*based on average monthly price change for 3 mos. of the quarter

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