Real estate research firm Zillow reports that November home prices rose 5.2% over the same month of last year. This was the largest improvement since August 2006. But the national data was misleading. The recovery has been uneven and has left several markets behind. The housing market remains deeply troubled in some parts of the United States.
Zillow’s numbers show that some of the most severely damaged markets have recovered the most over the past year. But they have not all recovered to prerecession levels, which makes the improvements at a level that does not wipe out entirely underwater mortgages, and the ability to sell homes for more than the value they had six years ago.
Markets that posted double-digit improvements November over November were San Francisco, Phoenix, Detroit, Las Vegas, San Jose and Denver. Some of these markets suffered home value drops of more than a third, and in the case of Las Vegas, more than 40%. The 11% improvement in Las Vegas in November is a start, but by no means a recovery.
Some of the markets that suffered sickening drops when the housing bubble burst continue to improve just above or even less than the national average. Among these are many markets in Florida, where values collapsed as much as in any single state. November improvement for Orlando was 4.6% and for Tampa, 5.7%
The other region where the recovery has been tepid, based on the Zillow figures, is central California, where some markets continue to have double-digit unemployment rates. First among these is Riverside, where a recovery remains years away.
Most of the largest markets in the U.S. continue to have only the most modest gains, compared to Zillow’s nation rate of 5.2%. These include New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington and Seattle. Three of these are the largest cities in the U.S. by population. Philadelphia is number five based on the same population measure. Dallas is in the top 10.
Viewed through the lens of a recovery from market to market, the recovery is hardly a recovery at all.
Douglas A. McIntyre