Home prices pick up in second quarter

Aug. 8, 2012 at 3:26 PM
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NEW YORK, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Second-quarter home prices rose by their largest percentage in at least seven years, pushed by low inventories and high demand for foreclosed properties.

Prices rose by 2.5 percent in June from a year ago, and by 6 percent from the previous quarter, reported CoreLogic Inc., a Santa Ana, Calif., data firm, which said the quarterly jump was the greatest since 2005.

Freddie Mac said home prices during the second quarter rose by 4.8 percent from the previous quarter, which it said was the largest jump since 2004.

Freddie Mac, officially the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., said in a release the so-called shadow inventory -- foreclosures or homes owners are delaying putting on the market until the prices improve -- might not be as foreboding as many think.

"While the shadow inventory persists, there is an important difference in today's market compared with those of recent years and that's the substantially reduced amount of excess vacant housing," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist. "The housing recovery may finally be coming out from the shadows."

The Wall Street Journal said Wednesday the key force behind the gains seemed to be a shortage of homes for sale, reporting that the number of properties on the market was less than a year ago despite an increase in demand because of low interest rates.

New home construction has been at depressed levels for years because of the number of foreclosed properties. That lack of new construction also "has set the foundation for a snap back in pricing," said Michael Sklarz, president of Collateral Analytics in Honolulu.

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