Even those that are usually the glass half-full type would have to tip the glass to see it half full in the latest September Case-Shiller Price Index report. The latest report, tracking through September, showed a drop in prices in 17 of 20 cities tracked versus August halting a 5 straight month upswing when at least half the surveyed cities showed monthly gains.

Three cities fell to their lowest home prices since the housing crisis began 4 years ago:

* Atlanta

* Las Vegas

* Phoenix

On the flipside, three cities showed price increases in September:

* New York

* Portland

* Washington DC

Case-Shiller September Price Index from Steamboat Homes
Case-Shiller September Price Index from Steamboat Homes

While logic would say that the lowest mortgage rates in history and very affordable home prices overall would lift demand (and thus prices) above the stormy waters, these positive factors are clearly overshadowed by the negative impact high unemployment and weak job growth have had on the psyche of would-be home buyers. Simply stated, a stronger economic outlook is needed to restore confidence and incent Americans to get off the fence when it comes to real estate.

A separate index looking at 2011 third quarter home price index levels vs. second quarter showed only a slight 0.1% increase in the third quarter. Nationally, home prices are back to their first quarter 2003 levels.

Finally, just to get it on the table: home prices are sure to fall again once banks start catching up on foreclosures that have been delayed due to the government investigation into mortgage lending practices. If there is a silver lining in the current dark clouds it’s that we should all now realize that while the housing market downturn will not be a quick fix, there will be prices out there that will entice those with good credit and stable jobs to start testing the home-buying waters. As with any turn-around, you have to start somewhere and build from there.

—For more information on buying real estate or questions regarding Steamboat Springs real estate or renting a home in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, feel free to call Charlie at 970-846-6435 or write me an email at: charlie@steamboatsmyhome.com