NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — In another sign of a turnaround in the long-battered real estate market, average home prices rebounded in July to the same level as they were nine years ago.
According to the closely watched S&P/Case-Shiller national home price index, which covers more than 80% of the housing market in the United States, the typical home price in July rose 1.6% compared to the previous month.
It marked the third straight month that prices in all 20 major markets followed by the index improved, and it would have been the fourth straight month of improvement across the full spectrum if not for a slight decline in Detroit in April.
The index was up 1.2% compared to a year earlier, an improvement from the year-over-year change reported for June. While home prices have been showing a sequential change in recent months, it wasn’t until June that prices were higher than a year earlier.
The July reading matched levels last seen in summer 2003, when the market was marching toward its peak in 2006. The collapse of the market after that led to the financial crisis of 2008.
“The news on home prices in this report confirm recent good news about housing,” said David Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Single-family housing starts are well ahead of last year’s pace, existing home sales are up, the inventory of homes for sale is down and foreclosure activity is slowing.”
Earlier this month, the Federal Reserve announced it would buy $40 billion in mortgage bonds a month for the foreseeable future. This third round of asset purchases by the central bank, popularly known as QE3, is its effort to jump start the economy through even lower home loan rates.
Mike Larson, real estate analyst with Weiss Research, said part of the improvement in the housing market is due to investors using the low mortgage rates to buy up homes that are in foreclosure and renting them in a strong rental market.
But he said that he doesn’t think there’s much chance of housing prices forming any kind of new bubble in the foreseeable future.
“Clearly the worst is behind us for this market., but this is not a market that is going to take off again,” he said. “While you have a firming up, you still have tight lending standards and people who have been burned are reluctant or unable to get back in the market.” He predicts it will take several more years before housing prices can gain more than 1% to 2% a year.
But that is good news for a housing market that was plagued by plunging home values and high foreclosure rates for much of the last six years. And the good news has the potential to build on itself, said Joseph LaVorgna, chief U.S. economist for Deutsche Bank.
“Housing remains a rare bright spot in an economy that is otherwise muddling through,” he wrote in a note to clients Tuesday. “The price trend for housing is significant, because it provides economic stimulus via stronger household balance sheets.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that home prices had reached a 9-year high. In fact, they rebounded to the level last seen in summer 2003, before their peak several years later.
I wanted to share with you an exciting announcement that is being released this morning regarding Squaw and Alpine’s participation in The Mountain Collective. See the release below and the link to a video describing this new pass: http://www.themountaincollective.com/
This is a new pass that includes Alta; Aspen/Snowmass; Jackson Hole; and Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows. I know that you will help us spread the word about this new product that offers passionate skiers and riders four of the premier resorts in the U.S.
Starting with my original conversation with Aspen’s CEO, Mike Kaplan at Aspen this past winter, the evolution of this product, like all of the mountains involved, has been remarkable. Supported by extensive guest research, analysis and our collective passion for the mountains, this portfolio of mountains, represents without question the resorts customers in North America and around the world dream about. I’ve already received an inquiry from some friends of ours involved in the ski business over in China, so it’s clear that the message and interest is resonating at a global level.
We’re proud to continue leading and the advancing of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows on the North American and the world stage!
Andrew D Wirth
Lake Tahoe Winter Games Exploratory Committee Board of Directors
– – –
President and Chief Executive Officer
Squaw Valley Ski Holdings LLC
Alpine Meadows & Squaw Valley
Post Office Box 2007 | Olympic Valley, California 96146
Pacific Fine Arts Festival returning this summer
August 17-19 and August 24-26
Pacific Fine Arts Fetival
Set on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, the Tahoe City Fine Arts and Crafts Festival will give visitors a special opportunity to meet with more than 45 artisans and craftspeople showcasing a wide variety of arts and crafts including photography, oil paintings, ceramic vessels, jewelry and much more. Providing a unique venue for patrons to view original handmade creations while enjoying the outdoors, this free event take places over two weekends, August 17-19 and August 24-26 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, at the Boatworks Marina Green in Tahoe City, an open grassy area overlooking Lake Tahoe between the Boatworks Mall and the Tahoe City Marina at 760 N. Lake Boulevard right off Highway 28. For more information, contact Pacific Fine Arts Festivals at (209) 267-4394, or visit www.pacificfinearts.com.
Take the opportunity to experience the finest in paintings, drawings, photography, sculpture, ceramics, graphics, and jewelry at a Pacific Fine Arts Festival near Lake Tahoe this summer. Meet more than 45 award-winning artists and crafts people at these free events. Among this year’s premier artists are ceramicist Brand Henry of Truckee, CA; printmaker Laura Morton of Grass Valley, CA; award-winning jeweler Meg Black-Smith of Nevada City, CA; landscape photographer Kathleen Burks of Fernley, NV; nixed-media painter Karen Hale of Jackson, CA; and glass blower Tim Lazer of Sacramento, CA.
Stay with PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn and Fly High with Virgin America
All reservations booked in 2012 will earn double Virgin America Elevate points (1000 per guestroom, 1500 per suite). As always, with all stays guests enjoy complimentary breakfast and valet parking.
Whether you’re looking to learn the art of fly fishing or looking to refine your skills, Matt Heron Fly Fishing located in the Olympic Valley is one of the most popular and sought after fly fishing schools in the country. The three hour Cast n’ Catch class begins with a private hour and a half of casting lessons, which leads into an hour and a half of guided fishing on the private, stocked ponds.
• One night accommodations for two people
• Cast n’ Catch Fly Fishing instruction by Matt Heron for two people (can be used in 2012 or 2013)
• Fresh baked pastries or assorted cheese plate provided by PlumpJack Cafe
• Bottle of CADE Sauvignon Blanc in room upon check-in
Farm Fresh to PlumpJack Cafe & A Fresh Guestroom Rate of $159 – Celebrate the last of the summer bounty and the beginning of the fall harvest with a very special evening showcasing Executive Chef Ben “Wyatt” Dufresne’s multi-course menu and Farmer Gary Romano of Sierra Valley Farms’ freshest ingredients. Join us for an evening of creative culinary delights, perfectly paired summer wines, lots of laughter, new friends and a dramatic mountain setting.
Stay with us for an exclusive Fresh Rate of $159
Date: Thursday, September 13th
Time: 6pm welcome, 6:30 dinner
Cost: $50 for four course dinner, $85 paired with wines
Summer Wine Dinners – Our Wine Series is back for the summer. Indulge in the full Wine Dinner Menu with wine pairings in the dining room or enjoy by the glass in the bar or with your dinner.
Stay with us for an exclusive Fresh Rate of $159
Upcoming Winemaker Dinners
Honig Vineyard and Winery
For Luxury Real-Estate, the ‘Year of Capitulation’
By: Robert Frank
CNBC Reporter & Editor
Carpinteria, California mansion
Once for sale at more than $22 million, a California beachfront compound with a guest villa, tennis court and swimming pool is going for $14.9 million.
Even the rich aren’t immune to the pressures of the housing market.
Prices for homes priced at $1 million or more have fallen a 20 percent this year, according to RealtyTrac. The average sale price for top-tier real estate has fallen to just over $2 million, from $2.5 million in 2011.
Those prices cuts stand in stark contrast to the broader housing market, which is seeing early signs of price stability and even price increases for the first time in years.
All that price-chopping at the top, however, has sparked a wave of sales as buyers scoop up deals and sellers accept the new reality of lower prices.
The number of transactions for homes priced at $1 million or more has jumped 18 percent this year, one of the strongest increases since 2008, according to Realtytrac.
Brokers for luxury real estate are already calling 2012 the “The Year of Capitulation” for wealthy sellers.
“I think sellers are now resigned to today’s prices and what’s actually selling,” said Paul Boomsma of the Luxury Portfolio, a marketing group for luxury homes. “ People who are serious about selling are ready to make a deal now, where maybe they weren’t a year ago.”
There are several factors behind the price drops. The high end of the market didn’t fall as much or as early as the broader market, since there weren’t as many distressed sellers that were forced to sell. Those wealthier sellers have hung on to their properties, waiting for prices to approach 2008 levels.
Now that they see that the prices of 2008 aren’t likely to return anytime soon, many are deciding to drop their prices just to get a deal. The increase in sales has itself spurred sales, as wealthy sellers see a larger number homes in their neighborhoods trading at lower prices.
“There is now a critical mass of data so sellers can say, ‘Well, this is the new reality,’” Boomsma said.
Of course, bargains are all relative in the mega-mansion market. And homes priced at $1 million or more represent a tiny slice of the overall market, with high concentrations in New York and California.
Yet some mega-mansions have seen price cuts of 30 percent or more in recent months.
A private beachfront-compound in Carpinteria Calif., has sliced $7.2 million from its price tag and is now being offered for $14.9 million, according to Luxury Portfolio. The property includes a six-bedroom main house, guest villa, tennis court, swimming pool, spa and 95 feet of beach frontage.
A historic estate in the horse country of Bedford, N.Y. has been reduced by $3.5 million. The estate was built for the Harriman family in the early 1900s and features an equestrian center and 100 acres of gardens, ponds and rolling hills. The new sale price: $26.5 million.
South Florida has seen a huge boost in luxury home sales driven by buyers from Latin America. But prices are falling there as well. An oceanfront palace in Delray Beach, with 15,000 square feet of living space, has been reduced by $4.4 million and is now available for $19.5 million.
“These sellers are capitulating,” said Daren Blumquist, vice president of RealtyTrac. “They are pricing to get these properties sold.”
Blumquist said many sellers may also be motivated to do a deal this year in anticipation of possible tax changes in 2012. If the Bush tax cuts expire, capital gains rates could rise from 15 percent to more than 20 percent. That added tax bill can grow to the millions of dollars when selling a mega-mansion.
“Election years bring uncertainty, so they might want to close a deal now,” he said.
-By CNBC’s Robert Frank
Follow Robert Frank on Twitter: @robtfrank