Investing in real estate is not the guaranteed winner it used to be. Maybe it never will be again.
U.S. home prices fell 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, as sales were boosted by investors seeking lower-cost distressed properties. Prices dropped 0.1 percent from the prior three months on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said today in a report from Washington. In December, prices retreated 0.8 percent from a year earlier, while increasing 0.7 percent from the previous month. Foreclosures (FORLTOTL) are boosting the supply of properties on the market and dragging down values for all houses. Banks may seize more than 1 million U.S. homes this year after legal scrutiny of their foreclosure practices slowed actions against delinquent property owners in 2011, RealtyTrac Inc. said last month.