The PMI Mortgage Insurance Co. is out with its Spring 2008 U.S. Market Risk Index.

The organization estimates that the chance of housing prices being lower in two years has declined in 32 of the 50 largest US housing markets, during the fourth quarter, 2007. This is an improvement from third-quarter, 2007, when they estimated that 39 of 50 markets were at risk.

The Greater Boston metropolitan area has improved in PMI’s ranking of markets at risk. On their scale from 1-5, Metro-Boston ranks a three (at the bottom of the three’s, in fact).

The organization sees the area as having a 20% chance of prices being lower two years from now. Riverside, California earns first place on this quarter’s report, with a 93% chance of prices dropping during the next two years. Also high on the list are Orlando, Florida, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. But, if you are looking to move to Charlotte, good news / bad news – prices are expected to stay at least where they are now (and didn’t I read that prices actually increased, 1st-quarter, 2008?).

PMI estimates that prices in our MSA dropped .62% in fourth-quarter 2006 and 2.57% in fourth quarter 2007 (or, a total of 2.57% since 2006, I can’t tell what they mean).

What you might find interesting / depressing / hard-to-believe, though, is what PMI is reporting on its “proprietary” Affordability Index.

PMI’s proprietary Affordability Index measures how affordable homes are today relative to a baseline of 1995. An Affordability Index score exceeding 100 indicates that homes have become more affordable; a score below 100 means they are less affordable.

According to PMI, the Boston MSA has an Affordability Index of 88.07, up from 86.7 just a year ago. Which means, according to them, home prices should be considered “affordable” to 88.07% percent of our population. Or something like that.

Care to disagree?

A good question: How come this information hasn’t been disseminated across the local Boston blogosphere and in the local newspapers? For example, on the Boston Bubble blog, they said the following: In August 2005, Boston was ranked the #1 most vulnerable housing market for potential price declines by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and the PMI Group. In later reports, The PMI Group increased their probability of declines in Boston even further, even as other metro areas took the top spot …

Okay, guys, time to update your blog.

I won’t hold my breath. THEY DID!

Source: PMI Mortgage Insurance Co.

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