National housing prices fell 11.5% as of March compared to a year ago, a slight improvement from an 11.7% annual decline as of February, according to new data from First American CoreLogic and its LoanPerformance Home Price Index.
While declines are slowing in states that have had the highest declines over the past three years, they are accelerating in places that have been experiencing only moderate decreases.
"The problems are no longer confined to a handful of 'Sand States,'" said Mark Fleming, chief economist for First American CoreLogic. "Homeowners in many parts of the country are coming under stress from a loss in equity, rising delinquencies and foreclosures. This is particularly pronounced in more expensive neighborhoods where the median value of all properties is over $1 million."
Roughly 33 states have exhibited acceleration in the rate of price declines in the last three months, and 14 states exhibited double-digit annual declines as of March - up from seven states a year ago. Nevada (-25.9%) remained the top ranked state for annual price depreciation, followed by California (-24.9%). Price declines in both states appear to be decelerating as California's decline was the smallest since March 2008 and Nevada's was its smallest decline in six months. Rhode Island (-21.2%) jumped to third and is currently the only state among the top five that continues to experience a consistent acceleration in price declines. Florida (-21.1%) and Arizona (-20.7%) round out the top five annual price depreciation states.
Other services are also finding the same trend of decelerating rate of home price decline. Home prices fell 18.7% in March from a year ago, according to Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city house price index, which has declined 32.2% since the second quarter of 2006.
Despite the plunge, the rate of decline in prices appears to have stabilized in the first quarter at a record 19.1%. The annual decline in January was 19% and 18.6% in February. Freddie Mac economists are forecasting that house price declines will slow in the coming quarters.
They expect the S&P Chase-Shiller National HPI will decline by 14% in the second quarter and by 10% in third quarter. Overall, house prices will decline by 12.8% in 2009 and by another 3% in 2010, according to Freddie.