With each passing year, the former Oracle of the Fed, Alan Greenspan, is reminded that there really was a housing bubble and lowering interest rates to record lows just made matters worse. Nearly four years after the housing market peak in 2007, record low mortgage rates are no match for falling incomes and 9% unemployment.
The Case-Shiller Home Price Index, released on Tuesday, showed that nation wide home prices did not register a significant change in the third quarter of 2011, with the U.S. National Home Price Index up by only 0.1% from its second quarter level. Home prices are down 3.9% across the board and are now back to their first quarter of 2003 levels. The market consensus was for a 3% decline year over year.
From August to September, housing prices have fallen the most in Atlanta, with a 5.9% decline, followed by Tampa Bay and San Francisco, both with a 1.5% drop in housing prices.
Boston, New York, Washington and Los Angeles remain the most expensive cities in the lower 48 states.
"The plunging collapse of prices seen in 2007-2009 seems to be behind us," says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices. "Any chance for a sustained recovery will probably need a stronger economy."