1 in 4 U.S. homes worth less than a year ago

One if four U.S. homes have lost value in the past year, with markets in the northeast such as Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia slammed especially hard with declines hitting more than 40 percent of the residences in their areas.

It wasn't much better in metro areas in the Midwest, with Pittsburgh, Chicago, Cincinnati and Cleveland all seeing declines affecting more than 30 percent of the homes in those markets.

The less-than-upbeat take on the housing market comes from Zillow, a provider of real-estate information.

"It's easy to say the recession is over when a third of the biggest markets are more expensive now than ever before, but we're still seeing a number of homes losing value," Svenja Gudell, Zillow's chief economist, said in a statement. "The reality is there are still areas lagging behind in the recovery."

Most of these values drops were small in nature and don't necessarily indicate price declines, Zillow says. Home prices in Philadelphia, for example, increased 0.3 percent from August 2014 to August 2015. The phenomena also didn't affect all regions. Most homes in hot real estate markets such as Dallas, Denver, and San Francisco are worth more than they were last year.

"The speed of recovery in the housing market might not be as fast as we had predicted," Andres Carbacho-Burgos, a senior economist at Moody's, told CBS MoneyWatch. More households are opting to rent, the economist added.

Perhaps not surprising, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has a vastly different take. The trade group contends Zillow's methodology is flawed, and that is research shows home prices climbed in 93 percent of the nation's metro areas over the past year.

John Petrack, executive vice president of the Realtors Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh, says the market in his area remains robust.

"Even during the Great Recession our home values increased modestly," Petrack said. "In fact, members say this is probably one of the busiest summers than they can recall."

But supply and demand are not exactly running in concert with would-be homeowners, Zillow's Gudell said.

"A lot of buyers are looking for urban high density living with a lot of amenities close by and we have a lot of homes but not necessarily in the center of the city and readily available."

Corrects story to indicate Zillow's data measured values not prices and clarifies that the service's data indicates the percentage of homes in a particular area where values fell in the past year.

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    Jonathan Berr is an award-winning journalist and podcaster based in New Jersey whose main focus is on business and economic issues.