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Boston and the Case-Shiller numbers

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis May 28, 2009 09:00 AM

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It was certainly a jaw-dropping decline, the 19 percent decline in home prices in the nationís top 20 metro markets.

But buried in the Case-Shiller indicesí first quarter report was some pretty interesting news about the health of the Boston area market.

And how you view it depends where you stand on the spectrum from housing market bear to housing market bull.

Boston was one of just a handful of cities to avoid a double digit, year- over-year decline in price.

Home prices in the Boston fell 8 percent during the first quarter, putting in league with Cleveland, Dallas, Denver and Charlotte, all of which also experienced middling declines.

After all, 8 percent looks pretty good compared to the 25 percent wallop home prices in Detroit took over the last year and the 31 and 36 percent shellacking endured by Las Vegas and Phoenix respectively.

If you lean towards the bull side of the spectrum, you are thinking that the Boston area may avoid plumbing the depths of the housing market downturn as vast tracts of foreclosure ridden California suburbs are.

Thereís something to be said for this view as well. While weíve had our share of foreclosures, itís not on the scale of a Miami or a Phoenix or other hard-hit areas, where 50 percent or more of all sales are foreclosures.

That will bring down prices, and in a hurry.

But if you are a housing market bear, all this means is that we still have a long way to go before we hit bottom.

For the bears, there are some stars that could be aligning in your favor.

One key factor is the recession, which appears to have hit the Boston area later than the rest of the country.,

That means we could be stuck in the economic doldrums right through next year, even as the rest of the country begins to grope towards recovery, according to a recent estimate by the New England Economic Partnership.

Home prices could keep on sliding through 2010, the forecasting group contends.

Now take that, housing bulls.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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