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National home prices show growth in February

Increasing interest in real estate market appears to fuel a small increase in home prices

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: April 05, 2012 01:15 PM

CoreLogic’s February Home Price Index, surveying national and local home prices and real estate activity, indicates that the national home real estate market may be nearing a point of stability. The Santa Ana-based analytics and business services firm reports that national home prices are reaching the volatile stage where a decline or increase is determined by a particular segment of the market.

CoreLogic’s month over month numbers indicate prices inched up by 0.7 percent from January, but declined year-over-year by 0.8 percent. The shift may be attributable to increasing investor activity.

"The continued strength of sales activity and tightening inventories in many markets are early and hopeful signs that prices will continue to stabilize and improve in the coming months,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “In fact, non-distressed home sale prices, which represent two-thirds of all sales, have appreciated by just over 1.0 percent since the beginning of the year."

However, when factoring in distressed homes –– including properties offered for sale by the mortgage holder, real estate owned transactions and short sales –– the small advance evaporates. When including the distressed market segment, overall home prices continued the declining trend seen over a number of months. Prices fell by 2 percent compared to the same month in 2011. At a month-over-month rate, the decline was much more moderate, at 0.8 percent. February marks the seventh month of consecutive decline in home prices on the national level.

Mark Fleming, a chief economist at CoreLogic, said that the overall decline in home prices appears to be slowing.

"House prices, based on data through February, continue to decline, but at a decreasing rate. The deceleration in the pace of decline is a first step toward ultimately growing again," Fleming said. "Excluding distressed sales, we already see modest price appreciation month over month in January and February."

In CoreLogic’s statistical area of Santa Ana/Anaheim/Irvine, prices showed a much heavier drop in February, at 4.5 percent compared to the same period last year. The difference in year-over-year change from January is negligible; during that month, prices fell by 4.4 percent, compared to the same time in 2011.

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