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Five years into the housing downturn, the latest data show little sign that a rebound in housing prices or volume is in the offing. The S&P/Case-Shiller index, amongst the most widely cited measures of home values, fell to an eight-year low in the just-released report of March 2011 activity. Distress continues to play a significant role in exerting downward pressure on prices; a larger overhang of foreclosures relative to demand for owned housing suggests that the index will trend even lower. Anticipating higher residential mortgage rates over the next year, significantly stronger job growth is a necessary but unlikely condition for housing market stability.

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