Home prices fall in Chicago, and consumer confidence is down

March 29, 2011

The Associated Press and CityRoom

(Getty/Scott Olson)
A home is offered for sale June 23, 2009 in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago during the boom in the housing market.

Home prices are falling in most major U.S. cities, at 0.22 percent overall in January. The average prices in four of them are at their lowest point in 11 years.

The Standard & Poors/Case-Shiller 20-city index shows price declines in 19 cities from December to January, including Chicago, which has dropped 1.8 percent in a month, and 7.5 percent in the past year. Chicago joins Atlanta, Charlotte, Detroit, Las Vegas, Miami, New York, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle and Tampa in the list of cities at their lowest level since the housing bust in Spring of 2009.

The only market where prices rose was Washington, where homes prices gained 0.1 percent month over month. The nation's capital has outperformed every other city in the index. Prices there are up 3.6 percent year over year.

Relatedly, the Conference Board reported later Tuesday morning on consumer confidence in March, indicating that worries about gas prices are expected to pull its confidence index down from a three-year high as the recent surge in fuel prices begins to cut into income. The Consumer Confidence Index fell more than expected to 63.4 from a revised 72.0 in February, though economists expected a decline to 65.4, according to FactSet. The decline reverses five straight months of improvement and raises concern about shoppers' ability and willingness to spend in coming months.

A reading of 90 indicates a healthy economy. The index hasn't approached that level since the recession began in December 2007.

The Conference Board says expectations about inflation rose dramatically, but expectations about income gains have soured.