Thursday, February 18, 2010

Still Some Air in the Bubble?

Posted By on Thu, Feb 18, 2010 at 9:12 PM

The Federal Reserve has released a report that seems to show Bend home prices have moved more or less back in line with those in other Oregon cities.

The report, titled “Trends in Delinquencies and Foreclosures in Oregon,” includes a bunch of interesting graphs, including one that tracks the rise and (in Bend’s case) precipitous fall in home prices from 2000 through the end of 2009 in the cities of Portland, Salem, Medford and Bend.

Bend saw a rise to about 225 in the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s House Price Index (with 100 representing prices in 2000) before starting to drop in mid-2006. Our peak was much higher than Medford’s (210), Portland’s (around 185) and Salem’s (about 170), and our drop has been much steeper – we’re now at 150 on the index, the same as Salem. Medford and Portland stand at roughly 160.

Another intriguing set of graphics consists of three maps of Oregon showing foreclosure rates in February 2008, November 2008 and November 2009. In the first map almost all of the state looks blue, indicating that less than 1% of homes with mortgages were in foreclosure or had been taken back by the lender following an unsuccessful auction. But by November 2009 a big blob of red has appeared around Bend, meaning more than 5.5% of homes were in foreclosure or had been taken back.

The price trend line clearly shows that the era of hyperinflation in Bend home prices is over. But does it mean prices here have bottomed out and are stabilizing at a more rational level?

It’s tough to draw such a hopeful conclusion. The local economy – and Oregon’s, and the nation’s – remain generally weak, foreclosures were still increasing in the last quarter, and many adjustable rate mortgages are due to be readjusted in early 2010.

And there’s a lot of air between where the price index is now and where it was before the bubble started inflating in 2004.

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