The housing market is cratering again, dousing the optimism that pervaded earlier this year. Prices fell for the third straight month in October, according to the S&P/Case Shiller index released yesterday, and economists expect them to keep dropping through early spring, wiping out any progress made since the market’s low in early 2009. “This looks like a double dip is pretty much on the way, if not already here,” one S&P economist tells the Wall Street Journal.
That could be bad news for what otherwise looks like a promising recovery. “People feel poorer when their houses are going down in value,” says one small business owner, who sees customers “spending as little as they can.” The effects will be especially pronounced in places like Sacramento, Las Vegas, Arizona, and Florida. “These places relied so heavily on mortgages and real estate for their economy,” says one real-estate professor, “that we’re going to see a two-tiered recovery.”