Great news: your house is worth 18% less than last year

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House prices are falling slightly less fast, according to today’s Case-Shiller data. Let’s celebrate? The 20-city home-price index was still down 18.1% in April (compared to April 2008), but that was an improvement over March’s 18.7% decline. Yale economist Robert Shiller, he of Case-Shiller fame, has been hitting the airwaves, talking about how this might be the beginning of the end. Consider that Denver, Washington DC, Cleveland and Dallas even saw their index values tick up (looking at seasonally adjusted data). A recovery in the making? Here’s where we now stand:

CS1So, in the grand scheme of things, not exactly back to normal. We might also feel a little less secure considering data out today showing prime borrowers are more than twice as likely to be delinquent now as they were a year ago. To the extent that mortgage non-payment begets foreclosure and foreclosure begets cheap houses that keep prices down we might feel insecure about the “recovery.”

Although, as Shiller pointed out, at least we’re falling within the stress-test scenarios the Fed used to determine the health of the nation’s banks. So that’s good news. Check out this graph, from Calculated Risk: