Is the US housing slump turning Japanese?

By Xavier Bremner

The news from the U.S. housing market has been so dreary for so long that it is easy lose to perspective. The latest read on the housing market, courtesy of the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home-price index, showed a slight 0.03% decline in March from February.

That counts as good news since the pace of decline slowed compared to previous months.

But hold on a second. As the Wall Street Journal pointed out here, prices are down some 35% from their peak in 2006 and average prices hit new lows major markets like Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, New York and Portland.

We are now six years into a housing bust that bears an uncomfortable resemblance to the truly epic Japanese property blowout that started in 1990 and has not really let up.

Check out the chart above, which appeared on Barry Ritholtz’s Big Picture site back in December. On the plus side, Calculated Risk notes housing experts Robert Shiller and Karl Case think home prices have finally bottomed out.