SAN FRANCISCO - MARCH 23: A sign is posted in front of a home that is for sale March 23, 2010 in San Francisco, California. Sales of existing homes fell for the third straight month, falling 0.6 percent in February. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Normally we expect a bubble - like the housing bubble - to follow a predictable pattern. Rapid expansion, sudden devaluation and then very slow recovery. The latest data from 20 large metro areas say that's not happening. Instead, after a very brief recovery, the devaluation continues.
Home prices in the San Francisco area fell 1.2% in the last month measured, according to the trusted Case-Shiller survey. That sounds bad, but "be glad you're not in Las Vegas" chuckles Standard and Poor's David Guardino. His agency's monthly survey shows disaster throughout the nation: in Atlanta, Charlotte, Detroit, Las Vegas, Portland, Seattle and Tampa home prices are now less than they were during the 2009 credit crisis.
Ignoring the monthly losses, there is some good news to be found for California and San Francisco in particular. Homes in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego continue to hold onto positive numbers for the year. In fact, San Diego has the best price performance of the 20 cities Case-Shiller measures. Prices in San Francisco are up 0.4% for the year, better than most American cities, but the worst performance in California (amongst cities measured).
San Francisco -1.2% +0.4
San Diego +.01$ +2.6%
Los Angeles -0.4% +2.1%
The 20 city study considers "San Francisco" to be the counties of San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Mateo Counties. The borders are set by statisticians, who consider Santa Clara County (San Jose) to be a separate metropolitian statistical area. Case-Shiller therefore ignores Santa Clara County in its study.