A reflection that the market is losing steam without government tax credits, home prices fell in nearly half of U.S. metropolitan areas in the third quarter.
According to the National Association of Realtors, the median price for home resales fell compared with last year in 76 out of 155 areas. Prices rose in 77 areas and were unchanged in two. In the second quarter of the year, prices rose in nearly two-thirds of U.S. cities.
The national median price for single-family homes, however, was nearly unchanged. It was $177,900 in the July-September quarter, down 0.2% from a year earlier.
The metro areas showing the biggest price declines from a year earlier were Ocala, Fla. (20%), Melbourne, Fla. (15%) and Tucson, Ariz. (15%).
Showing gains were Burlington, Vt. (18%), Elmira, N.Y., (17%) and Dallas (14%).
The government sparked a surge in home sales at the start of the year by providing tax credits of up to $8,000 for first-time owners. But since they expired, sales have slumped. And uncertainty over the extent to which banks filed fraudulent foreclosure documents has caused some buyers to shy away from foreclosed properties.
Nationwide, “distressed property,” including foreclosures and homes at risk of foreclosure, accounted for 34% of third-quarter transactions, up from 30% a year earlier, the Realtors estimated.
“Prices this year have been changing very little from year-ago readings,” said Lawrence Yun, the Realtors’ chief economist. “Areas with some larger swings in home price reflect the degree of distressed sales in those markets,” he said.