New data released by ""Clear Capital"":http://www.clearcapital.com Thursday shows that home prices in the western part of the country are sliding again, down 4.3 percent over the first three months of this year.
[IMAGE] Granted housing is inherently local, but the company says, taken on the whole, the West region has now officially entered double-dip territory, with home values hitting lows not seen since 2001.
Across the rest of the United States, though, the valuation firm argues that negative forecasts have been ""overstated,"" as prices in the South and Midwest have remained flat since the beginning of the year and prices in the Northeast have slipped just 0.5 percent.
According to Clear Capital, data through March 2011 in the Midwest, South, and Northeast regions is ""encouraging"" as home prices have managed to find a[COLUMN_BREAK]
bottom in the midst of ongoing foreclosure pressures and the traditionally slow winter season.
""The latest data through March supports our view that many markets are continuing to see relief from the significant price declines we observed through January,"" said Dr. Alex Villacorta, director of research and analytics at Clear Capital.
""Looking deeper at the disparity between the West and the other regions, we find that the rate of change in REO saturation continues to serve as a leading indicator of home prices. For example, out of all the regions, only the West showed acceleration in its REO saturation from the previous quarter,"" Villacorta explained.
Clear Capital says the region's underperformance in home prices reflects the extent distressed activity plays in western markets. Recently, distressed activity as a proportion of total sales has climbed nearly 10 percent since the second quarter of 2010, and now stands at 40.8 percent of sales, according to the company's study.
The poor showing in the West pulled home prices at the national level down 1.3 percent during the first quarter of this year, Clear Capital reports.
But looking ahead, the company says should the traditional spring and summer buying seasons prove substantial, national home prices could reach positive quarterly gains before the end of 2011. However, Clear Capital was quick to add that distressed activity remains high and will likely void any gains in the West.