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Tomorrow could be a big day in real estate.

That’s because, tomorrow morning, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight releases its quarterly figures for price appreciation.

The reason tomorrow’s numbers could be so important is that price appreciation could well be negative for the first quarter of 2006. That goes against the oft-quoted canard that “real estate prices never go down.”

Though year-on-year price appreciation is still almost certain to be positive, the guys over at the excellent blog Calculated Risk point out just how significant a first-quarter price drop could be:

The US hasn’t seen negative declining annual home prices appreciation since the Depression, however nationwide annual appreciation was close to zero in the early ’90s. There have been several quarters of negative appreciation declining prices, the worst being Q4 1990 when US housing prices declined 0.47 percent (1.9 percent annualized). If prices decline more than 0.47 percent for Q1 2006, than Q1 will be the worst quarter in OFHEO’s HPI history.

The numbers will be released at 10 a.m. EST. I, for one, will be waiting.

WILL CARLESS

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