You've got a better chance of tracking down a sasquatch than locating a housing market bottom in a key report issued today.
The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index came in worse than expected, showing the price of single-family homes (excluding new construction) in 20 major U.S. metro areas dropped nearly 13 percent in February from a year earlier. Of the 20 markets surveyed, 17 posted annual declines that mark record lows in the two decades that the index covers.
"There is no sign of a bottom in the numbers," Standard & Poor's Index Committee Chairman David Blitzer said in a press release. "Prices of single-family homes continue to drop across the nation. All 20 metro areas were in the red for the February-over-January reading. In addition, 19 of the 20 [metropolitan statistical areas] are still reporting negative annual returns. The monthly data show that every one of the MSAs has now declined every month since September 2007, marking six consecutive months."
Las Vegas (down 22.8 percent) and Miami (down 21.7 percent) take the honors for the steepest declines over the past year.
Meanwhile, Charlotte, N.C.—we hate you—is the only market left with a positive return over the past year (although it too is showing signs of stress).
Give it to us straight, Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist for High Frequency Economics:
The monthly declines have been accelerating steadily over the past year and this just marks another step on the way. The three-month annualized rate of decline is now a terrifying 22.0%, and prices have fallen by nearly 15% from their April 06 peak. We think it very likely that the plunge in home prices is a key driver of the collapse in consumers' confidence, which is now a good deal weaker than traditional models, based on stock and gas prices, imply. If so, the numbers will only get worse, and spending will follow, falling a long way for a long time.
Bad news, huh? Maybe a new hobby could take your mind off it.