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New Altos Study Compares Housing Market to Up and Down "Catfish Recovery"
Jun 03, 2011

The new Altos Mid-Cities Composite from Altos Research finds the current state of the housing market akin to a "Catfish Recovery," as the market continues to rise and fall. The May numbers reported by Altos exhibit signs of strength in the market (as did March and April numbers we reported months ago), as prices are on the rise in all the composite markets, except New York and Las Vegas, which experienced only moderate declines. The Altos Mid-Cities Composite is also showing signs of strength in markets across the country. This composite examines an alternate set of smaller MSAs across the country to counter the volatility seen in larger, mostly coastal cities in the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index. Described in the Altos report as the "Catfish Recovery," as catfish spend their time moving slowly at the bottom of lakes and rivers bobbing up and down from place to place without a clear direction. The report suggests that prices over the long term may hit bottom, then rise a bit, sink back down, and rise again—a pattern predicted for the U.S. slowly recovering housing market for several years to come. In May, the housing market showed an increase in median prices across the board, with big gains in San Francisco (3.33 percent); Washington, D.C. (3.27 percent); and San Jose (3.14 percent). Only two of the 26 markets reported decreases in prices, and they were modest decreases as New York reported a 2.85 percent price decrease and Las Vegas reported a drop of only 0.76 percent. Housing supply in May showed a smaller increase of 3.17 percent than the spring spike, accoring to Altos. The biggest increases were seen in Boston with an 8.39 percent rise, New York with a 6.18 percent rise and Washington, D.C. at 5.09 percent. Cities with the largest three-month inventory increases showed smaller increases in May than the previous spring months. The Florida markets of Miami and Tampa have exhibited one-month and three-month decreases in inventory, as only three cities have reported inventory reductions at the three-month level: Phoenix, Ariz. at -15.25 percent; Miami at -7.86 percent; and Tampa, Fla. at -1.78 percent. Click here to view the full Altos Mid-Cities Composite report.
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