case-shiller 20-city index
Yesterday's (Tuesday's) data would seem to suggest the bottom is a bit bumpier than most people think.
According to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index of 20 cities, home prices declined 3.5% from a year ago, while the 10-city composite slipped 3.6%. That meant fresh new post-bubble lows for home prices.
New-home sales in March also fell from their February level, the Commerce Department said. Together, they pointed to a more lackluster market.
"We're still in a slow period," said Robert Shiller, who co-founded the index that bears his name. "We're still in a funk."
But behind those numbers, there are reasons to be hopeful.
With borrowing costs near all-time lows, an economy that's bouncing back and cheap foreclosure properties attracting buyers, housing could be on the mend.
Knowing whether the housing market has bottomed out is important because nobody wants to pay thousands of dollars more for a property that could decline in value next week, next month or next year.
"The perception that prices could go lower...that's certainly keeping some people on the sidelines," Louis Cammarosano, general manager at HomeGain told Bankrate.com.
That's a problem because until buyers come back in significant numbers, the housing market can't completely regain its health. And without a housing market recovery, there won't be a real economic recovery.
But while we'd all like to know where the bottom is - pinpointing the exact date really doesn't matter.