Though the cheapest houses on the market may not get much cheaper, more-expensive homes still have further to fall, which will likely slow the broader housing recovery.The worst of the subprime-mortgage defaults has likely passed, most analysts agree. That could explain why low-end homes are decreasing as a percentage of total foreclosures, while middle- and high-end homes are taking bigger shares, according to Zillow.com data.That shift suggests price declines will prove more pronounced in middle and higher-end housing brackets, which haven’t yet fallen as far as the broader market. In San Francisco, high-end prices are down just 25% from their peak, compared with 39% for the broader regional market, according to Case-Shiller data. Monthly payments for adjustable-rate mortgages, which helped many buyers afford more-expensive homes, could rise next year, either due to payment resets or rising interest rates. That trend threatens more defaults on higher-priced properties, which would weigh on prices.

By Mark Gongloff, Dec 29, 2009 WSJ

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