House Index Results Are ‘Encouraging,’ Says IAS

gh home prices are still down 13% on a year-over-year basis, the April price index from Integrated Asset Services LLC (IAS) shows the volatility of the trend line is less than the previous year. April's report reflects the first non-declining numbers for the index in 10 months, and IAS says three of the four U.S. census regions were stable to positive for April. Only the South, which includes several particularly hard-hit Florida communities, was down for the month (0.3%), but there, too, the trend line was flattening. "It's too soon to call this a turn in the housing market, particularly given all the political and regulatory uncertainties," comments Dave McCarthy, president and CEO of IAS. "I think that we're still in for some difficult spells ahead, but we are seeing a certain kind of pricing equilibrium in several important markets. That's encouraging for the long term." Among metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs), the IAS360 house price index reports that three of the country's 10 largest MSAs – Boston, Chicago and San Diego – joined Denver, previously the only region in the nation showing gains, in positive territory in April. "Inventory levels are declining and sales are increasing in the lower-priced markets through a combination of incentives and low interest rates – creating a positive outlook for the entire market," says Rick Foos, president of SRA Foos & Associates Inc., a firm that performs relocation appraisals. "However, if we begin to see rising interest rates and an increase in foreclosures in tandem, we could be experiencing a false bottom, but if neither materializes to a great degree, then it does appear that the market may have bottomed." IAS360 data also revealed certain evidence of normalization, or at least a return to seasonality, in California. Representative counties up and down the state, including Monterey, San Bernadino, Ventura, Riverside, Sacramento, Sonoma and King counties, continue to report convincing upticks in housing prices. SOUR


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