From the Wall Street Journal (courtesy of the Post Gazette):
A look at inventories of unsold homes, prices and employment trends points to generally positive signs in Houston, Dallas and Atlanta — cities that have seen only modest home-price gains in recent years.
Metropolitan areas whose housing markets look less healthy, at least in the short term, include Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco. All of them have growing inventories of homes and relatively weak job growth. As a result, houses that a year or two ago might have sold in hours now are languishing on the market for months, and some sellers are cutting prices.
To produce a snapshot of residential real-estate prospects for 18 major metro areas, The Wall Street Journal examined inventories of homes for sale at the end of the first quarter from a variety of local sources; pricing trends based on surveys of real-estate agents by Daniel Oppenheim, an analyst at Banc of America Securities in New York; and projections of job creation by Moody’s Economy.com, a research firm in West Chester, Pa. Inventory data provide a broad picture of the overall supply of housing, while job trends are the biggest driver of demand. The pricing data show how markets are adjusting to recent shifts in supply and demand.
In New Jersey, a market highly dependent on people who commute to other states, prices are likely to be flat to slightly higher this year, down from the double-digit pace of recent years, says Jeffrey G. Otteau, president of Otteau Appraisal Group in East Brunswick, N.J. Next year, he thinks prices could fall 5 percent or so in the state.
“We think that we’re going to be in a flat holding pattern for the next several years,” Mr. Otteau says, though at the top end of the market, there is “an extreme oversupply” of houses. In Spring Lake, N.J., known for expensive homes, there is a three-year supply of homes at the current rate of sales, and Upper Saddle River has a 21-month supply, Mr. Otteau estimates. He blames the state’s loss of high-paying jobs in such industries as telecommunications and pharmaceuticals.