U.S. Set for 'Triple Dip' in Home Prices

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Halloween may be in the rearview mirror, but the housing market has another scare for homeowners.

Fiserv (Stock Quote: FISV) just issued new data that show the U.S. housing market had better brace for another “triple-dip” decline in home prices.

Fiserv says that U.S. home prices will fall by 3.6% by June 2012, dragged down by a lingering unemployment problem, more foreclosures, and more Americans reluctant to buy homes in an uncertain real estate market.

The numbers aren’t that far from the recently released S&P/Case-Shiller Housing Index, which had U.S. home prices off 3.8% from August 2010 to August 2011.

The good news from the Case-Shiller data is that the trajectory of home prices appears to be leveling off, albeit modestly. The index reports that the 3.8% number is at least lower than the 4.1% year-to-year decline seen in July.

But the Fiserv numbers are more forward-looking, reaching out nine months well into 2012, which might give pause to homebuyers who want to buy now but may be willing to wait until home prices decline further – that is, if Fiserv is on the money with its 2012 estimates.

If the numbers are right, Fiserv estimates that U.S home prices will have fallen a whopping 35% from highs in the spring of 2006. Case-Shiller isn’t far behind, calculating that the past five years haven’t been kind to U.S. homeowners – not by a long shot.

"Measured from their June/July 2006 peaks through August 2011, the peak-to-current declines for the 10-city Composite and 20-city Composite are -30.9% and -30.8%, respectively," the S&P/Case-Shiller report stated.

So why the continued slowdown in home values?