In Miami, condominiums are hot again.
In Phoenix, builders are opening new communities.
In New Jersey, buyers are finding it takes about three years to foreclose on a property
In Atlanta, home prices are down 14 percent annually, thanks to a new wave of foreclosures.
In California, more than half of all home sales in February involved distressed properties, but sales were up 5 percent month-to-month.
In Northern Virginia, a half million dollar home just sold in less than a week.
The housing recovery is under way in fits and starts, but it is volatile, and it is local.
Home prices nationally are down around 4 percent from a year ago, according to the latest report from S&P/Case-Shiller. While price declines are decelerating, that’s a new low for the index, which is now down 34.4 percent from its peak in 2006.
“Our view is that foreclosures, excess supply, and weak demand will drive home prices as measured by the Case-Shiller indices down at least another 5 percent,” says Patrick Newport of IHS Global Insight.
Newport points to the following negatives: 12 percent of homeowners with mortgages (i.e., more than 6 million homeowners) were either delinquent on their payments or in foreclosure at the end of the fourth quarter, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association; 22 percent of residential properties with mortgages are currently underwater, according to CoreLogic.
While the employment picture is improving, unemployment and underemployment are still running high, and mortgage rates, which hit historical lows just a few months ago, are on the rise again.
None of this points to a speedy recovery.
With more regulation ahead for the mortgage market, an uncertain future for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and 11 million Americans owing more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, housing will not spring back to life, no matter what the season.
Instead, it will likely sputter for a while, surge, retreat and repeat the cycle, until most of the distressed inventory is sold and home prices finally find a bottom.