Hopeful national housing trend may be taking root in California

Fresno BeeJanuary 2, 2009 

As the train wreck that was 2008 departs, we stand in the door of a new year, looking for the tiniest glimmer of hope.

Maybe Mark Fleming found it. The chief economist at market tracker First American CoreLogic says the rate of price declines nationwide slowed in October and November. Values declined 10.4% in October from 11.2% in September, and preliminary figures for November show a dip of 9.6%.

Similar signs are appearing in Fresno. Price declines accelerated from January to July, but now could be slowing. Since July, the year-over-year declines have been fluctuating between 25% and 27%, with preliminary figures for November at 24%, said Sam Khater, who also is a senior economist at First American.

"The declines have stabilized," he said.

That doesn't mean prices will pick up any time soon. In fact, some more declines are likely in a deteriorating economy in 2009, but they probably won't be as great. The issue facing prospective buyers is this: Do you gamble on further declines or do you jump in now, knowing that interest rates are their lowest in decades?

History shows that previous downturns took three to five years to bottom, and seven to 10 years for prices to reach levels of the last peak, Khater said.

"Home-price busts take a long time to unwind," he said.

Read the complete story at fresnobee.com

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