Coastal housing markets still way overvalued
Some improvement seen, but many coastal cities are still far more costly than they should be.
By Les Christie, staff writer

NEW YORK ( - Some of the most overheated U.S. housing markets did become a little less overvalued during the fourth quarter of 2005 -- but homes there didn't actually fall in price.

Other factors, such as rising income, combined to increase what Local Market Monitor president Ingo Winzer calls the equilibrium value -- what the typical house should sell for . Winzer compares the equilibrium value to actual prices to compute the percentage overvalued.

"Although we hear of a slowing real estate market, we don't yet see any price declines in the data," says Winzer.

Winzer figures that by the fourth quarter of 2005, the nation's most overvalued housing market on his list, Santa Barbara, California, came in 83 percent higher than it should be. Santa Barbara's equilibrium value was $309,100 and actual prices there averaged $567,200.

Some hot Florida cities, however, got hotter. Naples went from 72 percent to 76 percent overvalued; Sarasota, from 43 percent to 44 percent; and Miami from 54 percent to 55 percent.

Regionally, there's a striking contrast between cities on both coasts and those in the heartland. California accounted for nine of the top 10 overvalued housing markets while Texas has four of the most undervalued.

Many of the other undervalued markets are in old northern industrial cities such as Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, both undervalued by14 percent, or southern cities, including Memphis and Fayetteville, North Carolina, each of which was 18 percent under the equilibrium value.

The more overvalued a market is, the more likely it will regress toward its equilibrium, according to Winzer. He also says that the greater the overvalue, the larger the correction will be and the longer the time period before the market starts growing again.

An overvalue of 40 percent or more indicates very high risk of correction, he says. Top of page

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