Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Parsing the Case-Shiller House Price Data

On the final Tuesday of every month, the nation is treated to the data point known as the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index; offering us a snapshot of housing price performance across 20 major metropolitan areas. (As a side note, why is Houston not included in this list?) The chart above illustrates the performance of the 20 cities covered by the index as of May 2009 (unfortunate 2 month lag time). We'd recommend assessing the data from this perspective, as the headline number reported in the media belies the fact that all real estate is local; to a degree that is. Breaking the chart out into individual cities allows you to discern the differences in the health of each market; it also illuminates the fact that not all cities participated in what could be called a "boom" in real estate during the past decade - conversely, not all areas of the country have "busted". Relevant observations from today's release:
  • Home prices in every metropolitan area except Detroit are, as of May 2009, above their January 2000 level.
  • New York is still 70.5% above it's January 2000 level
  • Month-to-month, Cleveland (surprise) logged a 4.1% increase; the highest in the series. Las Vegas dropped 2.6%, earning that city the title of "laggard" of the group.
  • Every city logged a year over year price decline, however the range was 30.1 percentage points. Max: Dallas -4.1% , Min: Phoenix -34.2%
The fact that Case-Shiller ticked positive for the month shouldn't however be a cause for excitement. For housing to "recover", the plight of the average citizen must actually improve. Rising unemployment and falling wages have never been a recipe for a strong housing market; except in the NAR's world. Sphere: Related Content

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