New data released by ""Clear Capital"":http://www.clearcapital.com Thursday shows that home prices nationally are up 5.0 percent compared to February 2009.[IMAGE]
The quarter-over-quarter price change for the numbers through last month was flat at 0.0 percent, indicating a softening during the winter months. But Clear Capital noted that the year-over-year price variations have been in positive territory for two months straight, and the company said it expects another big price boost to come when home sales pick up before the contract deadline for the homebuyer tax credit.
""If the increase in demand that preceded the end of the last tax credit is any indication, home prices may dip only slightly into negative territory before getting an added boost before the April tax credit deadline,"" said Dr. Alex Villacorta, senior statistician for Clear Capital.
All four U.S. regions posted very consistent quarterly price changes in February, according to Clear Capital's analysis, with only the Northeast showing a decline of 1.4 percent.[COLUMN_BREAK]
On a year-over-year basis, just the West had a drop, and it was a mere 0.5 percent. Prices in the Midwest skyrocketed 13.8 percent compared to February 2009.
Clear Capital says February's year-over-year price gains speak volumes about the improved market picture today compared to the first months of 2009, when credit was limited, nearly all properties were rapidly losing value, and REOs flooded the market as banks faced the risk of failure.
While the current supply of foreclosed homes is significant and the swollen pipeline for loan resolution is feeding concerns over shadow inventories, Clear Capital says demand for discounted REOs by investors and new homebuyers has buoyed prices well into the winter and should continue into the spring. The company noted, though, that this demand has been muted by the typical slowdown in winter sales, pushing REO saturation to 26.1 percent Ã¢â‚¬" a 1.3 percent increase over January.
""We observed an expected increase in REO saturation this month, as the flow of foreclosures continued to come into the market, while traditional non-distressed sales wait to be listed in the spring and summer months,"" Villacorta explained.
Clear Capital says while the risk of additional REO inventories arriving later in 2010 should not be taken lightly, the company suspects this inflow will arrive with a stronger springtime and summer buying season, helping to ease the shock to the marketplace.
""Although many markets have seen a slow down in price gains, I'm encouraged that prices have remained positive through the first two months of the year despite all the negative economic news and threat of more REOs hitting the markets,"" Villacorta said.