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The following is an editorial on some news I read on 11/25. I then went and did some research on this and put together this article. Do you need a breaking news article or other content written? I can help you. All I need is a list of keywords you want to have in the content and a synopsis of what you want the page to be about. Contact me today.


Home Prices Are Still Rapidly Declining

The S&P Case-Shiller Home Price national index recorded a 16.6% decline in the third quarter compared with the same period a year ago. That eclipsed the previous record of 15.1% set during the second quarter.

Prices in Case-Shiller's separate index of 10 major cities fell a record 18.6%, while its 20-city index dropped a record 17.4%.

Home prices in the 10-city index have fallen for 26 consecutive months. The 10-city index is now 23.4% off its peak price, which came in June 2006; the 20-city index is down 21.8% from its July 2006 high and the national index has fallen 21% since the third quarter of 2006.

In the weakest market, Phoenix, the 12-month loss came to 31.9%. Las Vegas prices plummeted 31.3% and San Francisco recorded a 29.5% decline. The best performing markets, Dallas and Charlotte, N.C., still posted drops - 2.7% in Dallas and 3.5% in Charlotte.

With San Francisco and Las Vegas, the other members of the 10-city index are: Miami, down 28.4% year-over-year; Los Angeles, down 27.6%; San Diego, down 26.3%; Washington, down 17%; Chicago, down 10.1%; New York, down 7.3%; Boston, down 5.7%; and Denver, down 5.4%.

In addition to Phoenix, Dallas, Charlotte and the cities in the 10-city index, the 20-city index is made up of: Detroit, down 18.6%; Tampa, Fla., down 18.5%; Minneapolis, down 14%; Seattle, down 9.8%; Atlanta, down 9.5%; Portland, Ore., down 8.6%; and Cleveland, down 6.4%.

"The turmoil in the financial markets is placing further downward pressure on a housing market already weakened by its own fundamentals." said David Blitzer, Standard & Poor's spokesman for the indexes, in a press release. "All three aggregate indices and 13 of the 20 metro areas are reporting new record rates of decline. . . . Prices are back to where they were in early 2004."

"The real economy took a sharp turn for the worse towards the end of the third quarter," said Pat Newport, an economist with Global Insight. "Since then, housing permits are down, the National Association of Home Builders index of activity dropped to a record low in November and purchase loan applications were down 15%. That's telling us the housing market has worsened a lot."

Foreclosures continue to take a heavy toll, with sales in some cities dominated by properties repossessed by banks and then put back on the market, often at bargain prices.

"Foreclosures are clearly a part of the market now," said Blitzer.

Every cloud has a silver lining.
While more bank woes, foreclosures and increasing job losses continue to contribute to lowered home prices, the good news is that now homes are more affordable. First-time buyers and investors are finding great bargains in the housing market. Financing is difficult to obtain for those who have past credit problems, but the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and veterans Administration (VA) still offer home loans even if your credit isn't perfect. Plus, where else can you get a home with less than 20% down these days? Conventional lenders require at least 20% down and some are requiring up to 40% down. FHA allows you to buy a home with as little as 3.5% down. Active duty military, reservists, veterans and surviving spouses of veterans can get up to 100% financing on homes if they take advantage of one of the most popular and valuable military benefits--the VA home loan program. Interest rates for these government-backed loans are competitive with conventional loans.

Similar to conventional loans, VA and FHA loans require full documentation of income and liabilities, but underwriting is nowhere near as strict. In addition to not needing as high a credit score, the debt-to-income (DTI) ratio requirements aren't as steep as they are for conventional loans. For a conventional loan, you typically need a credit score of at least 660 if you are putting 20% down and at least 700 if you have less than 20% startup equity. Conventional lenders will generally not lend to you these days if you have a debt-to-income ratio of more than 30%. FHA and VA will approve up to 40% DTI.

Now is a great time to buy! Prices are low, and you can get a loan, especially if you use FHA or VA.

Maria Ny is a published author. She writes articles and website content on a variety of subjects including various types of mortgages, information on various law practice areas, FICO credit scores, search engine optimization and internet marketing, animals and instructional content. Visit www.marianydesigns.com to read more informative articles and to find out how she can help you with your web content needs.