Arizona homeowners continue to lose equity in their properties, at least on paper. New figures Tuesday from the Federal Housing Finance Agency show that the value of the average home in the state is down nearly 15.2 percent from a year earlier.
That is based both on homes actually sold as well as the appraisals done on houses that were just refinanced.
When considering only the purchase price of homes, the picture becomes even bleaker: The difference between the last quarter of 2008 and the same period a year earlier is approaching 21 percent.
But the one bit of good news appears to be that the numbers could be approaching the bottom.
Overall home values declined just 2.9 percent last quarter versus the prior quarter. That compares with a 6 percent decline between the second and third quarters of last year.
None of that may provide any comfort for those who actually had to sell their homes, whether voluntarily or in foreclosure, and take the real loss: The prices of homes sold in the last quarter of 2008 were down more than 9.1 percent from the prior quarter.
The valuation figures are considered a key indicator of what homes, on average, actually are worth. That is because FHFA tracks both the sale and government-backed refinancing of the same houses.
By contrast, indexes that rely on median sales figures for a market simply measure the prices of the homes that change hands in that particular month or quarter.
There also are some differences in the way FHFA gauges values in comparison to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index.
The latter uses data from county recorders versus mortgage values. It also is a weighted index, with changes in the prices of more expensive homes having a greater influence on the overall numbers.
The decline in values is not uniform around the state.
According to the FHFA, the year-over-year drop in the Phoenix metro area exceeded 18.8 percent. When just home sales are considered, and not refinancing, that figure jumps to 26 percent.
FHFA economists computed only overall valuation numbers for the rest of the state.