Ok...so we're holding up pretty well in Boston (comparatively speaking).
Here's a nice graph from Calculated Risk (a great blog on the finance and economics world) based on the Case Schiller home price index (as of September 2008, their latest released Tuesday morning). The data is based on single family home sale prices in various parts of the country and shows how far prices have come down since their peak value. FYI: "Boston" is actually the Boston metro area (as are the other cities listed), and only consists of single family data (no condos or multi's), but it gives a great indication of how our area compares to the rest of the country.
So Boston home prices have fallen 12-13% off their peak from nearly three years ago. Compare that to the stock market which has fallen 40% in 6 months time! Home prices will come down a bit more, I believe, but a lot of the hyperbole and media attention has been focused on a housing "crash" which may be true in some areas, but clearly is not as widespread as it seems. 12% down in the Boston area over three years is not good, but it is certainly not devastating. And there are some towns and communities that are up over that time, like the downtown Boston condo market.
So why have Boston house prices held stronger than other parts of the country? There are three main reasons:
1. With less than 1% of the homes in Massachusetts being foreclosed on since 2006, we don't have as big a foreclosure problem as some of the other cities (like Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Miami).
2. Our local economy is based on industries like education, healthcare, biotech, and money management who recruit a highly skilled workforce from all over the world for higher paying, more stable jobs.
3. We don't have a lot of land left to develop for new housing stock near Boston plus our zoning and development laws severely limit the construction of new homes. We never had the over-building and over supply problems of cities like Miami and Las Vegas.
I don't want to be an eternal optimist, especially in the face of this recession we are in, but I think there should be a level of realistic discussion about what the housing markets in various parts of the country are doing without excess doom and gloom talk. That's what I try to do here for the Boston market.