""Clear Capital"":http://www.clearcapital.com has released new home price data, with an encouraging, albeit cautious, analysis to boot.[IMAGE]
The California-based real estate valuation company reports that through the end of January, national home prices are down 1.6 percent on a rolling quarter-over-quarter basis. But despite the negative quarterly price change, Clear Capital says the national index has demonstrated a positive trend since the start of 2011.
Clear Capital's latest release shows that U.S. home prices stopped declining in early January and have posted their first uptick since mid-August 2010.
""This recent national change in price direction is encouraging for the overall housing sector, yet it is still too early to determine whether this current uptick in home prices is a temporary reprieve or the start of a sustained recovery,"" said Dr. Alex Villacorta, senior statistician at Clear Capital.
Villacorta went on to explain, ""This uptick is the first non-incentivized change in prices we've seen since the downturn began, and could provide great opportunity for[COLUMN_BREAK]
buyers, sellers, and investors alike. Although many markets still remain under significant downward pressure in light of increased distressed sale activities, it is clear that the severity of the downturns observed in October and November have subsided.""
Based on sales transactions through the end of January, the company's report says ""national home prices have turned the corner."" Clear Capital adds that this observed change in prices is especially meaningful as the first months of the year are typically affected by the seasonal slowdown in sales activity.
The company says one primary driver that may explain the cause for the sudden increase in prices is the slowing of the rate of sale of REO properties.
Clear Capital also keeps close track of what the company calls REO saturation, calculated as the percentage of REO homes sold as compared to all properties sold in the last rolling quarter. The data show that every spike in REO saturation has corresponded with a decline in home prices, and vice versa.
According to the companyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s latest report, the most recent rolling quarter for REO saturation has slowed considerably after gaining 3.2 percent during Q3 2010, with national REO rates only climbing 1.4 percent.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“A decrease in REO saturation indicates that an increasing proportion of fair market transactions are occurring, and as the level of distressed transactions decrease, prices tend to increase since the overall market value for an area is less affected by distressed comparable sales,Ã¢â‚¬Â Clear Capital explained.
The company continued, Ã¢â‚¬Å“If this observed negative correlation persists, a leveling off of the national REO saturation rate could indicate that home prices are poised for further gains well ahead of the seasonal spring lift.Ã¢â‚¬Â