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Bad News: Home Prices Way Down. Good News: Not SF's Fault

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Bad news likes to come in numbers these days; the latest comes in the form of the Case-Shiller home-prices index, which puts San Francisco among the country's three worst performing regions, right after Las Vegas. Ouch! But the numbers, they deceive. The index lumps together the many disparate counties of the Bay Area, with relatively solid San Francisco, Marin, and San Mateo counted with Alameda and Contra Costa, "which have been racked by foreclosures." Also, the fact that the index measures prices based on sales of the same home means it's overcounting sales of foreclosed homes, pushing numbers even lower. The Chron speaks to an economist who suggests looking at different price tiers: really cheap houses here have nosedived to August 2000 levels, while homes above the $500k level are now back to February 2004 prices. The story ends on a bright note, citing another economist who says "the continued decline in home values is necessary to restore affordability to the market." Well, when you look at it that way, things are just getting better and better.
· S.F., U.S. home prices in free fall [SF Gate]