Integrated Asset Services LLC (IAS), a default management and residential collateral valuation company, released its IAS360 House Price Index for May 2008. The report showed a 3.2 percent decrease in house prices on a national level from April to May and a 20.1 percent decline from May 2007 to May 2008.

The IAS360 House Price Index is a comprehensive housing index, tracking monthly change in the median sales price of detached single-family residences across the United States. The index tracks data at a neighborhood level, which is then rolled up to report on the changes in 360 counties, nine census divisions, four regions and the nation overall.

All four U.S. regions posted declines in May, further eroding an already volatile housing market. The South continues to struggle the most with a decline of 7.7 percent for the month and a 19.6 percent reduction in regional house prices since May 2007. The West continued its downward trend as well, tracking a 1.1 percent decline in May with an annual decline of 22.4 percent. The Midwest and the Northeast regions were down 2.2 percent and 1.5 percent respectively for the month of May.

“While things look terribly gloomy on the national and regional level, there are some pockets of opportunity at the neighborhood and county level that are worth a look,” said Dave McCarthy, IAS president and CEO.

For example, Denver metropolitan statistical area (MSA) house prices rose 0.4 percent for May and posted a year-over-year decline of 16.5 percent. But at the county level data, there were signs of improvement in places such as Adams County, where house prices jumped 1.2 percent for the month of May. Denver County saw a 0.3 percent increase, and Arapahoe County saw a 0.6 percent increase, after posting year-over-year declines of 18.0 percent and 14.6 percent, respectively. While several counties within the Denver MSA saw slight improvements, other counties are still feeling the pressure. Broomfield County, for example, posted a 4.8 percent decline, adding to the year-over-year decline of 18.5 percent.

“The housing market is a local phenomenon,” McCarthy said. “To get a clearer picture of the market, it is important to drill down to the county and the neighborhood level to begin seeing the trends that are truly moving the housing market.”