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Recent reports show that home prices have already begun to drop this year. Clear Capital recently released its Home Data Index™ (HDI) Market Report with data through February 2014.

The report showed that February national home price gains were notably lower over the quarter, down to 1 percent from 2.5 percent. This is the largest drop since 2010, when gains were coming off the first time homebuyer tax credit. As markets adjust to the new normal, 1 percent is significant; 2014 is only expected to see 3 percent-5 percent growth.

Additionally in February, national REO saturation ticked up 1.8 percentage points from 20.9 percent to 22.7 percent, the largest gain since January 2012. Declining quarterly gains coupled with rising REO saturation suggest home prices could see quarterly declines within the next few months.

“A few concerning indicators surfaced in February’s home data,” says Dr. Alex Villacorta, vice president of research and analytics at Clear Capital. “Our early data shows national quarterly price gains are falling at a rapid pace and suggest overall prices could dip into negative territory soon if current conditions continue.”

With one month of winter to go, moderating prices in the bottom half of the lowest performing metro markets suggest near-term price declines are not out of the question. In February, three out of 15 reported slight declines over the quarter. The remaining 12 metros were mostly flat with not one market reaching 1 percent growth.

Jacksonville’s REO saturation rose by 3.2 percentage points over the quarter to 43.2 percent. This is the highest rate of distressed sale activity across the largest 50 metropolitan areas, and the largest quarterly increase for Jacksonville since early 2011. Under the pressure of rising distressed activity, price gains have cooled dramatically. Current quarterly gains of just 0.7 percent represent the lowest rate of growth forJacksonville since mid-2011.

“In light of expected waning investor demand, higher rates of distressed sale activity signal that the housing market still must withstand distressed sales, which account for nearly one in four transactions,” says Villacorta. “Since the market fallout in 2006, home prices have dramatically declined during sustained periods of rising distressed sale activity. Over the last two years, however, rising distressed sales have been offset by investor demand, which is not guaranteed to be present in 2014.”

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