Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Prospects for Double Dipping in Housing Market

Housing is feeling awfully double dippy. S&P/Case-Shiller home-price data out Tuesday showed a 3.3% year-over-year drop in February, while the index's measure of 20 metropolitan areas was just a hair above the crisis low seen in April 2009. For banks, the renewed downturn is likely to mean some pain, although not necessarily a crushing blow. That is largely due to the jobs picture. Today's unemployment rate of 8.8% is almost exactly where it was in early 2009. But back then joblessness was rising. Now, it is falling. If that trend holds, and if renewed price falls don't near the 10% level, banks probably won't see a serious increase in delinquencies. Even underwater homeowners are less likely to default if they remain employed.

And one possible silver lining in the Case-Shiller data was that the size of month-to-month declines has been slowing of late.

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