Some Markets Show Signs of Hope

Denver-Whether one sees county and neighborhood data as early indicators of overall changes in market trends or not, changes in local housing prices show where to look for the strongest and weakest mortgage markets.

Integrated Asset Services LLC, a default management and residential collateral valuation provider, reported that while the decline in overall home prices nationwide indicate the recession and bad housing news are consistent, there are some significant deviations from that norm at the local level.

At least IAS executives see it as a relevant and promising change.

The IAS360 House Price Index for September 2008 showed a 2.1% decline in house prices on a national level in September, with an annual decline of 13.3%.

The IAS360 monthly report, which includes the most current and granular single-family housing data based on the census, "also shows bright spots at the individual county level with 75 of the 360 counties showing month-to-month improvement in September," IAS said.

"Housing prices at the national and MSA levels are still seeing declines, but we're seeing positive signs at the county level, and even more encouraging signs at the neighborhood level," said Dave McCarthy, president and CEO of Integrated Asset Services.

"A review of the IAS360 House Price Index county level data, which is an aggregate of the 15,000 neighborhoods we track, provides insights into pockets of the country that may be showing signs of improvement."

The executive agrees, however, that at the national level the picture continues to look challenging.

At the census region level, results for September show all four regions experiencing declines in house prices, with the South and West reporting annual double digit declines, respectively, at 11.2% and 19%.

Current data show a slightly different picture relative to 2007. For example, compared to September of 2007, Western and Midwestern housing prices improved slightly, performing better than the Northeast and South regions where prices continued to weaken.

Results for the month of September at the division level show that all nine U.S. Census divisions posted declines.

West South Central led the way with a decline of 4.5% with New England, the South Atlantic and the Pacific posting declines of 3%, 2.5% and 1.9%, respectively.

The IAS360 House Price Index tracks monthly changes in the median sales price of detached single-family residences across the U.S. It tracks data from 15,000 areas defined as "neighborhoods" along with price changes in 360 counties, nine census divisions, four regions and the nation overall.

IAS provides real-time nationwide reports, traditional and collateral valuation products, and full-service REO management and disposition.

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