Housing prices falling in Asheville but not like Atlanta ‘zombies’

Biltmore Forest home prices

The impact of falling housing prices is illustrated in this Zillow.com chart showing plunging home values in Biltmore Forest. Asheville seems to be holding together comparatively well, however, and Zillow reports some North Carolina communities such as Fayetteville are actually seeing housing appreciation.

In the South, nothing may be as bad as Atlanta, where failed housing developments and failed banks have left “zombie” subdivisions forming a “ring of death” around the city, according to the local newspaper.

To say the market has been sluggish would be an understatement. The main problem is sheer volume – a staggering 150,000 vacant housing lots across metro Atlanta are available, more than a decade’s supply at current absorption rates.

via Volume of ‘subdivision’ vacant lots overwhelms banks | ajc.com.

There are reports that Reality TV star Lisa Wu Hartwell and husband, former Oakland Raiders linebacker Edgerton Hartwell, have lost their home to foreclosure in Atlanta.

Experts say the bottom in housing prices may still be a long way off. Analysts at Deutsche Bank in New York are saying that 48 percent of mortgaged properties will eventually be underwater as they expect prices to drop through the first quarter of 2011.

We haven’t seen a bottom in home prices, and it could take into 2011 before we see equilibrium in the market,” said Michelle Meyer, an economist at Barclays Capital in New York.

via Underwater Mortgages May Reach 30% | Bloomberg.com

The good news is for first-time home buyers and investors with liquidity. Now is probably as good a time as any to look for housing deals.

Update: Data in distressed areas is showing that most housing sales indeed involve first-time home buyers using government assistance programs and investors using cash.

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