Monday, June 4, 2012

Radar Logic: Prices Will Fall Further, Strengths Due to Temporary Forces

Even though Radar Logic reported a monthly increase in home prices for March, the analytics company expects prices to fall and gave credit to “temporary market forces” for recent strengths seen in the housing market.
“In light of the oversupply we continue to see in the market, we disagree with the widespread view that home prices have reached a bottom or will do so in the near future,” said Michael Feder, president and CEO of Radar Logic.
Feder added that a negative response to economic news, either in the U.S. or elsewhere, could also undermine housing demand and seriously hurt home prices.
According to Radar Logic, the RPX Composite price, which tracks home prices in 25 major metropolitan areas, showed a 1.8 percent increase on a monthly basis, but decreased by 0.87 percent year-over-year in March.
With distressed homes remaining a significant portion of home sales transactions, Radar Logic said the significant discounts for distressed properties in relation to non-distressed means a further fall in prices.
According to RealtyTrac, homes in foreclosure or bank-owned accounted for 26 percent of all residential sales during the first quarter of 2012. In addition, the average sales price of homes in foreclosure or bank-owned in the same quarter was $161,214, which is a 27 percent discount compared to the average sales price of homes not in foreclosure or bank-owned.

Quinn W. Eddins, director of research and author of the report, wrote, “Large inventories of REO and homes in the foreclosure process still have to make their way into the ‘visible’ inventory of homes listed for sale, and as they do they will weigh on home prices.”

As for the temporary forces giving the market an added boost, the report named institutional investors as one of the driving factors. As rental prices increase, large investors are buying up discounted properties to convert them into rental units. This trend is driving up prices for distressed properties in certain metros where investor demand is high. Once prices for discounted properties rise to the point that investors won’t yield the return they are seeking, demand will decline again.

Another market influence Radar Logic highlighted is the mild winter weather that was seen in many parts of the U.S. This led to an earlier start for home shopping. As a result, Radar Logic said the price for March’s strength may be paid by a weaker buying season later.

Radar Logic expects national home prices to decline over the next 18 months, but said when it comes down to it, timing of the bottom is academic.

However, the analytics company said, “The important point is that national home prices are not going to increase in a sustained and meaningful manner anytime soon.”

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