Case-Shiller Index Verifies Home Value Gains Through Q3 2012

Case-Shiller Index September 2012

The housing market continues to expand.

According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Index, which was released earlier this week, U.S. home prices rose in September for the sixth straight month, climbing 0.3% as compared to the month prior.

On an annual basis, values are higher by 3.0%.

The Case-Shiller Index findings are a composite reading of 20 U.S cities, 17 of which showed home price gains in September. Detroit and Washington D.C. showed slight declines, and New York City showed no change.

Leading the recovery, though, appears to be Phoenix, Arizona. The previously hard-hit city has seen home values gain 20.4% over the last 12 months. Also noteworthy is that Atlanta, Georgia reversed 26 consecutive months of home value declines in September, posting a +0.1% annual growth rate.

Average U.S. home prices have climbed back to mid-2003 levels.

On a month-over-month basis, value change by city varied. San Diego, California and Las Vegas, Nevada both posted gains of 1.4 percent from August, leading the Case-Shiller Index’s 20 tracked cities. Minneapolis, Minnesota and Phoenix showed gains of 1.1 percent.

Los Angeles, California rounded out the Top Five, posting a 1% gain month-over-month.

Despite the index’s strong findings, however, we should remember to temper our expectations. The Case-Shiller Index — like most home value trackers — is wildly flawed. Buyers in Kent should follow its gospel with caution.

Here’s why.

First, the Case-Shiller Index tracks values for single-family homes only. As a result, it doesn’t account for multi-unit homes or for condos and co-ops. This is a big deal in cities such as Chicago and New York where high-rise units are common.

Another flaw in the Case-Shiller Index is that it’s 60 days delayed. It’s nearly December yet we’re still reviewing data from September. In housing market terms, September was a different market. Real-time data trumps data from last season. 

That said, the long-term trends as shown by the Case-Shiller Index, are overwhelmingly positive. As a Case-Shiller Index spokesperson remarked, “It is safe to say we are now in the midst of a recovery in the housing market.”

19 of 20 Case-Shiller Index Markets Improve In August

Case-Shiller Index : Home Prices Between July and August 2012

Home value rose to close out the summer, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Index, a national home-valuation tracker.

Nationwide, values rose 0.9% between July and August 2012 with 19 of 20 tracked markets showing improvement. Only one tracked city — Seattle, Washington — showed a decrease, falling just 0.1 percent.

On an annual basis, 17 of the 20 Case-Shiller Index markets improved, led by Phoenix. Home values in the Arizona city are up 18.8 percent from August 2011. The next closest city in terms of home price gains is Detroit, Michigan at 7.6 percent

We should temper our excitement for the August Case-Shiller Index, however. Although it suggests an ongoing U.S. housing recovery, the methodology of the Case-Shiller Index is far-from-perfect. In fact, one could argue that the index is more effective for policy-makers than for actual buyers and sellers of real estate.

There are three reasons for this :

  1. The Case-Shiller Index tracks home prices of single-family homes only. Multi-unit homes are excluded.
  2. The Case-Shiller Index can be distorted by “discounted” home sales (e.g.; foreclosure, short sale).
  3. The Case-Shiller Index publishes on a two-month delay — data is hardly current.

Beyond the above three points, however, the Case-Shiller Index falls short in another area — it ignores the basic tenet of housing that “all real estate is local”. In using 20 cities to represent the entire United States, the Case-Shiller Index reduces more than 3,100 municipalities into a single “market”.

Even within its 20 tracked cities, the Case-Shiller Index fails short as a housing market barometer. This is because — even with cities — home values vary. Some Kent zip codes perform better than others, for example, as do some streets within Fairwood. The Case-Shiller Index can’t capture markets with that level of detail.

National housing data helps in spotting broader trends of growth but provides very little for today’s active buyers and sellers of real estate who need “real-time” data. For that, talk to a local real estate agent.

Case-Shiller index Shows Home Values Rising Nationwide, Too

Case-Shiller Index annual change July 2012

There have been no shortage of “housing market” stories lately. After sinking through much of late-last decade, home values slowly stabilized into mid-2011. By October 2011, values appeared to have bottomed.

Today, nearly five-and-one-half years after the April 2007 housing market peak, home prices are finally showing their ability to rebound. Over the past 12 months, a bevy of housing market data highlights broad-based market growth.

For example, as compared to August 2011, Existing Home Sales are up 9.3 percent nationally; New Home Sales are up 27.7 percent nationally; and home inventories have slipped to multi-year lows in Kent and throughout the country.

Furthermore, multiple home value trackers show home prices rising both regionally and nationwide.

Last week, the government’s Federal Housing Finance Agency released its Home Price Index (HPI) — a metric which tracks how home values change between sequential property sales. HPI showed home values up 3.7% nationally.

Another home valuation tracker — the S&P Case-Shiller Index — has shown home values to be rising, too.

As compared to one year ago, the private-sector metric puts home prices higher by 1.2 percent via its 20-city composite. 20 cities remains a small subset of the broader U.S. population, but, in looking for a trend, it’s clear that the trend is a positive one.

Some of the Case-Shiller Index highlights from its most recent report :

  • All 20 tracked cities showed home price gains between June 2012 and July 2012
  • The previously hard-hit city of Phoenix now leads the nation with a 16.6% annual gain
  • Versus their respective lows, San Francisco and Detroit are up 20.4% and 19.7%

In addition, on a 12-month basis, only four cities are showing negative home value growth — Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, and New York City.

The Case-Shiller Index is a national index, though, and specifically does not report on valuation changes in specific U.S. cities and their neighborhoods. For local real estate data, make sure to speak with a local real estate agent instead.

Case-Shiller Index Shows Huge Home Price Gain

Case-Shiller Index June 2012

Home prices continue to rise nationwide. 

According to the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Index, home prices rose 6.9% between the first and second quarter of 2012, the largest quarter-to-quarter gain since the home-value tracker’s 1987 inception and another signal that the housing market is in recovery.

The private-sector metric’s results are similar to what the government’s Home Price Index showed for June, too — values rising quickly. In addition, for the second straight month, each of the Case-Shiller Index’s 20 tracked markets showed month-to-month improvement.

June would have marked three straight months if not for Detroit’s value-setback in April.

The top performing markets in June, as tracked by the Case-Shiller Index were :

  1. Detroit, Michigan : 6.0 percent gain
  2. Minneapolis, Minnesota : 4.8 percent gain
  3. Chicago, Illinois : 4.6 percent gain

However, it should be noted that the Case-Shiller Index pulls from a limited sample set. It does not include condominiums or multi-unit homes in its findings, nor does it account for new construction. These exclusions make a material impact on the results of both Minneapolis and Chicago, as examples. Both cities feature a large concentration of condos.

Overall, though, the June data looks sound. Said a spokesman for the Case-Shiller Index, “The market may have finally turned around.”

Furthermore, home buyers in Fairwood and nationwide can corroborate what the Case-Shiller Index has uncovered. Falling home inventory and rising home demand have helped to move home prices higher in many U.S. markets.

Low mortgage rates make new homes affordable and rising rents are turning the Rent vs Buy equation on its head. In July, according to the National Association of REALTORS®, first-time home buyers accounted for 34% of all home resales.  This trend is expected to continue into 2013.

As compared to one year ago, today’s home buyers have 8% more purchasing power and, with rising home prices, they’re going to need it.

Case-Shiller Index Shows Home Values Rising Nationwide

Case-Shiller Index May 2012

According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Index, home values rose 2.2% nationwide, with all 20 tracked markets making month-to-month improvement. On an annual basis, 17 of the 20 Case-Shiller Index markets improved.

Despite the positive report, however, our enthusiasm for the May Case-Shiller Index should be tempered. This is because the index’s methodology is less-than-ideal for today’s Renton home buyer.

There are three main reasons why :

  1. The Case-Shiller Index tracks values for single-family homes only
  2. The Case-Shiller Index is distorted by distressed, discounted home sales 
  3. The Case-Shiller Index publishes on a 2-month lag

Perhaps even more important, though, is that the Case-Shiller Index ignores a basic tenet of the housing market — all real estate is local. It’s not possible for 20 cities to represent the U.S. housing market as a whole. Even more egregious is that the 20 markets tracked by the Case-Shiller Index don’t represent the country’s twenty most populated cities.

The Case-Shiller Index specifically excludes home sale data from Houston, Philadelphia, San Antonio and San Jose — four of the nation’s 10 most populated cities. Yet, the index does include data from cities such as Minneapolis, Minnesota and Tampa, Florida.

These two cities rank #48 and #55, respectively.

Furthermore, in its 20 tracked cities, the Case-Shiller Index still manages to fail as a reliable housing market barometer. This is because home values vary by zip code, by neighborhood, and by street, even. All 20 Case-Shiller Index cities showed gains in May, but there remains areas within each metropolitan area in which values outpaced the Case-Shiller Index findings, and areas in which values fell short.

The Case-Shiller Index provides broad, generalized housing market data and that works for an economist. For an active home buyer or seller, though, making smart real estate decisions requires having timely, relevant real estate data at-hand when it’s needed. 

For data like that, talk with a real estate agent.

Phoenix Leads Annual Home Price Gains, According To Case-Shiller Index

Case-Shiller Index

Standard & Poors released its March 2012 Case-Shiller Index last week. The index is meant to measure changes in home prices from month-to-month, and from year-to-year, in select U.S. cities.

According to the report, home values rose in 12 of the Case-Shiller Index’s 20 tracked markets, and one market remained unchanged.

Of the Case-Shiller markets, Phoenix, Arizona posted the largest one-year gain, climbing 6.1 percent. Atlanta, Georgia posted the largest one-year loss. Values falling more than seventeen percent there year-over-year.

Overall, the Case-Shiller Index was relatively unchanged in March as compared to the month prior, but down nearly 3 percent on an annual basis. Nationwide, says Standard & Poor’s, home values are back to the levels of late-2002.

Don’t be overly concerned, however. Though widely-cited, the Case-Shiller Index is a flawed and misleading metric. It’s methodology almost guarantees it.

The first flaw in the Case-Shiller Index is its limited geography. Despite there being more than 3,100 municipalities nationwide, the Case-Shiller Index tracks just 20 of them. They’re not the 20 largest ones, either. Houston, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Jose are specifically excluded from the Case-Shiller Index and each is among the Top 10 Most Populous Cities in the United States.

Minneapolis (#48) and Tampa (#55), by contrast, are included.

The Case-Shiller Index’s second flaw is that only tracks the sales of single-family, detached homes. Sales of condominiums and multi-unit homes carry no weight in the index whatsoever — even in cities such as Chicago and New York in which condos can account for a large percentage of the overall real estate market.

And, lastly, when the Case-Shiller Index is published, it’s published on a two-month delay. Buyers and sellers in Kent don’t need housing data from two months ago — they need data from today. The Case-Shiller Index tells us what housing was, in other words. It doesn’t tell us how housing is

Buyers and sellers need real-time, actionable information. You can’t get that from the flawed Case-Shiller Index. For more accurate, relevant real estate data, talk to your real estate professional instead. 

Home Values Start The Year Strong

HPI 2007-2012

Home prices started the year on an upswing. 

According to the Federal Home Finance Agency’s Home Price Index, home prices rose by a seasonally-adjusted 0.3 percent between January and February 2012. The index is up 0.4% over the past year, offering a counter-story to the Case-Shiller Index’s assertion that home values are sinking.

Last week, Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Index said home values had dropped more than 3 percent in the prior 12 months. 

As a home buyer or seller in Kent , data showing “rising home values” or “falling home values” may be of interest to you, but we can’t forget that most home valuation trackers — including both the government’s Home Price Index and the private sector Case-Shiller Index — have a severe, built-in flaw.

Both used “aged” data. Today, the calendar reads May. Yet, we’re still discussing February’s housing data.

Data that is two-plus months old is of little value to everyday buyers and sellers wanting to know the “right now” of housing. And, even then, characterizing the data as “two-plus months old” may be a stretch. This is because the home values used in the Home Price index and the Case-Shiller Index are collected from actual transactions, but at the time of closing.

Considering that most purchases require 45-60 days to close, we can know that when we look at the Home Price Index and Case-Shiller Index reports for February, what we’re really seeing is a snapshot of the housing market as it existed two-plus month plus 60 days ago.

Data that’s 5 months old is of little relevance to today’s buyers and sellers. Today’s market is driven by today’s economics.

The Home Price Index is a useful gauge for economists and law-makers. It highlights long-term trends in housing which can be helpful in allocating resources to a particular project or policy. For home buyers and seller throughout WA , though, it’s much less useful. Real-time data is what matters to you.

For that, talk to a real estate professional.