Home values in Arizona are approaching free fall.
New figures Tuesday from the Federal Housing Finance Agency show the value of the average home in this state plummeted more than 6 percent in the three months ending Sept. 30. And year-over-year, values are down by 13.5 percent.
That means, on average, a house that was worth $200,000 on Oct. 1, 2007 is now worth $27,000 less.
That decline is the sharpest ever recorded by the agency for Arizona since it has been tracking these numbers beginning in 1985. Only Nevada, California and Florida home values posted larger annual losses.
Nationally, the value of the average home dropped 2.6 percent in the most recent quarter and 4 percent year-over-year.
The figures are a key indicator of actual home values. That is because FHFA tracks the both the sale and government-backed refinancing of the same houses.
By contrast, 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.
Agency director James Lockhart attributed much of the sharp drop in values nationwide to both the spike in foreclosures as well as tightening credit. He said recently approved federal legislation could help alleviate both.
But Patrick Lawler, chief economist for FHFA, said a turnaround in values requires both a reduction in unsold homes on the market as well as greater confidence in the real estate market by buyers.
The size of the drop in values varies around the state.
Coconino County, for example, recorded a quarterly drop in home values of just 3.8 percent, with an annual difference of 6.35 percent.
By contrast, the Phoenix metropolitan area — defined as Maricopa and Pinal counties — posted a three-month drop in values of more than 7.5 percent. Values are down by more than 16.6 percent from the same time a year earlier.
Pima County found itself somewhere in between, dropping 3.9 percent over three months and 8.3 percent annually.
And in Yuma, where FHFA measures only year-over-year changes, the difference was 5.8 percent.
Home values actually do appear to be appreciating, if only a bit, in some areas of the country. North Dakota managed to post a 4.0 percent year-over-year increase, with South Dakota slightly behind.
At the bottom of the list is Nevada where home values have dropped by 20.9 percent in a year, including a decline of nearly 26.8 percent in the Las Vegas area.
California followed at 20.8 percent, with home values in Stockton and Merced actually plummeting by 40 percent in a single year. Florida posted a 16.0 percent decline.