Home Prices for February Reflect Smallest Decline in 17 Months

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First, Some Good News

CoreLogic, a leading provider of consumer, financial and property information, recently released the HPI, or Home Price Index for February and reports that although home prices are still going down, the rate of decline is slowing. Between January and the end of February 2012, home prices were down by 0,8%. Please note that these figures include both distressed and non-distressed properties.

The 12 month comparison shows a 1.98% drop as opposed to last January’s rate of decline which was -2.88%. The December 2011 figure was even more dismal at -4.0%. The figures from this past February are certainly promising. Since the mortgage crisis began, the HPI has not been that low since September 2010.

When short sales and bank-owned homes were taken out of the equation, the HPI was up by 0.4% in January and 0.7% in February. According to CoreLogic’s chief economist, Mark Fleming, “the deceleration in the pace of decline is a first step toward ultimately growing again.”

CoreLogic tracks 100 Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs). In February, 67 of those areas showed declines as opposed to January’s total of 76. So, where are home prices faring the best? Here is the top five: West Virginia +8.6%, Michigan +5.8%, Florida +4.7%, Arizona +4.5% and South Dakota +4.1%. Please note that these figures include both distressed and non-distressed homes. This is great news for AZ and FL, two states who have had high inventories of homes for sale.

US Ranked 1st Most Affordable Housing Market

The United States was recently bestowed the honor of highest rank for the 2012 Annual Demographic International Housing Affordability Survey. The study measures the affordability of homes in 325 countries.

The formula that determines affordability is focused on housing markets in metropolitan areas. The median house prices are divided by the gross annual income. An affordable rank is then given to each market ranging from “Affordable”, which is 3 or less to “Severely Unaffordable”, which is a score of 5.1 or more.

The US came in first with a score of 3 and Ireland followed in second place with a score of 3.3. Of all 325 countries in the survey, 128 metro areas were chosen as affordable and of those, 117 were in the US. Top ranked were Detroit, Atlanta, Phoenix, Rochester, and Cincinnati as the nation’s top five most affordable cities.

The number of available homes on the market, current low mortgage rates, and recent confirmation of what a bargain US real estate is, suggests that now could be an excellent time to invest in a home of your own!

Tucson, AZ Tops List of Worst Housing Markets

Despite its diverse business economy and highly-regarded cultural scene, the city of Tucson’s real estate market has fallen on difficult times. Sadly, this Arizona town topped the list of America’s 10 Sickest Markets in 2011, published on Yahoo by 24/7 Wall St.

The survey took several factors into account, including homeowner vacancy rates, rental vacancy rates and unemployment. In 2010, Tucson’s homeowner vacancy rate was 3.2%. The survey showed that rate had doubled to 6.8% in the span of a year. Demand fell so low, home prices have fallen 18% in a year’s time and dropped 33% since 2008.

With one of the country’s highest foreclosure rates, Tucson is in a vulnerable position and the numbers don’t look good. Hopefully, local efforts and national assistance programs like the Home Affordable Refinance Program or HUD-approved housing counselors can offer a silver lining to Tucson homeowners.

If you are trying to buy, sell or refinance a home in Tucson, speak with a qualified housing consultant or mortgage expert serving the community. You can find a list of Arizona mortgage companies in the rate tables on ForTheBestRate.com

Below is the list compiled by Yahoo of the 10 Sickest Real Estate Markets
10. Oklahoma City
9. St Louis
8. Kansas City, MO
7. Detroit
6. Dayton
5. Baton Rouge
4. Atlanta
3. Memphis
2. Indianapolis
1. Tucson

Nat Criss is one of the owners of ForTheBestRate.com. Nat has an extensive background in mortgage finance, real estate, and online marketing. Nat was previously the Marketing Director for AAXA Discount Mortgage, a mortgage company which conducted business in 26 states, and currently helps run CMG Equities, LLC and ILM Marketing. My Google Profile+

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