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Clear Capital Says Home Price Appreciation Has Come to a Halt

New data from ""Clear Capital"":http://www.clearcapital.com shows that U.S. quarter-over-quarter home prices in March dipped 3.9 percent, the first decline recorded by the company in nine months.

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The California-based asset valuation firm’s ""report released Thursday"":http://www.clearcapital.com/company/MarketReport.cfm?month=April&year=2010 says that the national quarterly downturn limited year-over-year gains to 5.1 percent.

Dr. Alex Villacorta, senior statistician for Clear Capital, said, ""Although yearly price changes remain positive compared to last winter's lows, the most recent declines reflect the fragile and volatile state of many housing markets and could signal a trend to renewed lows off last year’s levels for several markets.""

The national year-over-year gain reflects how far home prices have risen since they hit their lowest mark one year ago. Before the summer season arrives, Clear Capital says we’ll likely see reduced national yearly numbers again as the new figures are compared to the price run-up that started late in the spring of 2009. However, to be called a

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true “double dip,” price declines must extend through the typical spring and summer seasonal lifts and set new record lows, the company explained.

All four U.S. regions did turn in positive yearly price gains for the first time since spring of 2006, but the milestone was countered by the return of regional quarterly price declines.

The volatile Midwest lead the quarterly depreciation with a 6.7 percent drop in home prices. In the South, prices were down 3.6 percent quarter-over-quarter, and the Northeast recorded a decrease of 3.5 percent.

The West region saw the smallest quarterly decline, of 1.3 percent, and Clear Capital says it has recently proven the most resilient, showing pricing strength among its significant REO segment as demand from investors and new homebuyers helped the region shrug off any potential seasonal slowness.

Major markets in the West continued to show improvement, with seven of the fifteen highest performing markets in Clear Capital’s study located in California. The company noted that the West is generally not experiencing the sharp upticks in REO saturation and solid drops in quarterly prices seen in other parts of the country.

Clear Capital says overall, REO saturation rates continue to rise as slowing sales magnify distressed property influences. REO saturation rates maintained last month’s trend, rising 2.8 percentage points to 28.9 percent.

Villacorta said, the ""national increase in REO saturation is also a concern, yet the prevalence of REOs is having a mixed effect on price trends at local levels.”

About Author: Carrie Bay

Carrie Bay is a freelance writer for DS News and its sister publication MReport. She served as online editor for DSNews.com from 2008 through 2011. Prior to joining DS News and the Five Star organization, she managed public relations, marketing, and media relations initiatives for several B2B companies in the financial services, technology, and telecommunications industries. She also wrote for retail and nonprofit organizations upon graduating from Texas A&M University with degrees in journalism and English.
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