A second wave of falling home prices is battering some cities that had escaped the worst of the housing market bust.

A second wave of falling home prices is battering some cities that had escaped the worst of the housing market bust.

Prices in Seattle, Charlotte, N.C., and Portland, Ore., have hit their lowest points since peaking in 2006 and 2007. Denver and Minneapolis are nearing new lows. High unemployment and rising foreclosures are taking a toll even on markets that never overheated during the boom years.

Home values are dwindling in nearly every American market. Prices fell in November in all but one of the 20 cities in the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index released Tuesday. Eight of those markets hit their lowest point since the housing bubble burst.

The damage from the real estate bubble has spread well beyond Las Vegas, Phoenix and Miami, which built frantically during the mid-2000s, and is sapping prices from coast to coast. In many places, prices are expected to keep falling for at least the next six months.

In Charlotte, homes are going for 2004 prices. Last year, more than half of the homes sold in surrounding Mecklenberg County were foreclosures, says Mark Vitner, a senior economist with Wells Fargo.

“There’s a huge oversupply, and a lot of people are struggling,” says Vitner, who works in Charlotte. “We’re expecting it to fall even further in 2011.”

The banking industry, which helped Charlotte boom over the past two decades and accounts for roughly one in every 11 jobs there, was hit hard during the recession. The city lost 12 percent of its financial jobs in 2008 and 2009, according to the Labor Department.

Adding to the region’s economic woes, about a third of jobs tied to the auto industry also vanished in the downturn, said Michael Walden, an economist at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Charlotte’s unemployment rate was 12.8 percent a year ago, well above the national rate. It has fallen to 10.8 percent, still more than twice what it was when the recession started.

“We’re feeling it, there’s no doubt about that,” says Mike Shaffer, owner of Century 21 Southern Comfort Realty.

Of course, while foreclosures weaken resale values, they’re great for renters who want to own a home. Robert Hubbard closed on Monday on a three-bedroom, two-bath house in Charlotte that he bought for about $79,000. While it takes some looking to find the right place, the market is “saturated” with foreclosures, he says.

In Seattle and Portland, the two largest cities in the Pacific Northwest, prices peaked in the summer of 2007 and have fallen back to 2005 levels.

Foreclosures were uncommon in Seattle until about a year ago. Now they’re dragging prices down, says Jim Conlan, branch manager for Century 21 North Homes Realty Inc. Home prices in Seattle were down nearly 5 percent in November from a year earlier. ,…. Read More >>>>


Plane carrying UMass Basketball team makes emergency landing in Albany

The plane carrying the UMass men’s basketball team made an emergency landing just after 4pm this afternoon after the pilots reported smoke coming from the cockpit.

The Minutemen were on their way to Olean, New York to play St. Bonaventure tomorrow night.

According to UMass Associate Athletic Director Jason Yellin the Minutemen’s plane took off from Westover AFB at 3:30 this afternoon. Roughly 20 minutes into the flight the pilot informed the crew and passengers that there was a problem, and the plane would be making an emergency landing in Albany.

The plane landed just minutes after the emergency was declared, and the Minutemen are now waiting at the Albany airport before deciding to continue to Olean or return home.

Mayor Salaries 2011

Western Mass and New England Mayor Salaries 2011

City Population Salary
Springfield 155,575 $  95,000
Boston 645,169 $175,000
Lawrence 70,592 $100,000
Lowell 104,400 $144,000
Holyoke 40,005 $  85,000
Chicopee 55,994 $  85,000
West Springfield 28,165 $  85,000
Westfield 42,133 $  90,000
Pittsfield 42,432 $  86,000
Hartford CT 124,512 $139,128
Bridgeport CT 137,912 $126,538
New Haven CT 124,001 $127,070
Providence RI 175,255 $125,000

Source  Jan 21 2011

Home price declines now exceed the Great Depression

Zillow: Home price declines now exceed the Great Depression, prices fall for 53rd straight month
Home prices fell for the 53rd consecutive month in November (the latest data available), taking the decline past that of the Great Depression for the first time in the prolonged housing slump, according to Zillow. Home prices have fallen 26 percent since their peak in 2006, exceeding the 25.9 percent drop registered in the five years between 1928 and 1933, the housing data company said in a report on Monday. Prices fell 0.8 percent over the month.

It is a dubious milestone for the U.S. housing market which has failed to gain much traction despite a host of government programs to reduce delinquencies and encourage demand with temporary tax credits and lower interest rates. Many economists expect further price drops, even if there are some anecdotal signs of growing demand, such as in pending home sales data.

“For the next six to nine months, the larger factors affecting the housing market that will produce more home price declines will be the excess inventory of homes, high negative equity and foreclosure rates, and weakened demand due to elevated employment, Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist, said in a blog post.

Declines are accelerating, and it will take a while before falling unemployment and other signs of economic improvement support the market, Zillow said. Home prices fell at a 0.78 percent pace in November, the fastest since February 2009, the company said.