Econintersect: Lender Processing Services (LPS), said national average home price for transactions during February 2012 was $195,000 – a increase of 0.2% month-over-month. LPS, based on partial data, believes March 2012 data will show a 0.3% improvement in home prices.
“Our HPI shows an increase in seasonally adjusted prices this month for the first time since March 2010, and for only the third time in five years,” said Raj Dosaj, vice president of LPS Applied Analytics. “There have been signs of price declines slowing for a few months now, and our estimates for next month are flat to slightly positive. Without a pickup in sales volumes from their current anemic levels, it’s hard to be more optimistic that the market may be nearing the end of its fall.”
“Reasons for caution are clear, as we’ve been here before. Non-seasonally adjusted prices increased for a few months in early 2009, 2010 and 2011 – trends that all ended by summer, after which all the gains – and then some – were lost. As is true this month, those temporary increases were on low sales volumes – about 30 percent lower than at any point since 1998. Furthermore, the inventory of distressed homes remains high, which will continue to put a drag on prices.“
LPS noted that:
During the period of most rapid price declines, from April 2007 through April 2009, the LPS HPI national home price fell at an average annual rate of 9.3 percent. The break of the post-bubble price movements into two periods, observable in the updated HPI last month, is clearer in the seasonally adjusted HPI this month. The slowest declining trend lasted from about April 2009 to April 2010, dates which are marked in Figure 1. This interval differs somewhat from our previous report because the seasonally adjusted data make the turning points less ambiguous. The expiration of the first-time buyers’ tax incentive in April 2010 marks the start of a steadier decline in house prices. Figure 1 shows the trends for the three different post-bubble intervals.
Price changes during February among metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) were mixed. Of the more than 585 MSAs the LPS HPI now covers, prices increased for all of the MSAs (199) in 20 states. In addition, while average prices did not increase for all MSAs in the remaining states, prices increased in a total of 334 MSAs. This is the first LPS HPI report in which the majority of MSAs covered by LPS data had increasing prices.