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posted on 30 June 2015

Case-Shiller Home Price Index April 2015 Shows Home Prices Rising But Pace Not Accelerating

Written by Steven Hansen

The non-seasonally adjusted Case-Shiller home price index (20 cities) year-over-year rate of home price growth was 4.9% - down insignificantly from last month's 5.0%. The authors of the index say: "The real, or inflation adjusted, price change since 1975 is one percent per year".

  • 20 city unadjusted home price rate of growth accelerated 0.0% month-over-month. [Econintersect uses the change in year-over-year growth from month-to-month to calculate the change in rate of growth]
  • CoreLogic currently shows the highest year-over-year growth of 6.8%.
  • The market expected:
Consensus Range Consensus Actual
20-city, SA - M/M 0.5 % to 1.8 % 0.8 % +0.3 %
20-city, NSA - Y/Y 4.8 % to 5.8 % 5.4 % +4.9 %

S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices Year-over-Year Change

Comparing all the home price indices, it needs to be understood each of the indices uses a unique methodology in compiling their index - and no index is perfect. The National Association of Realtors normally shows exaggerated movements which likely is due to inclusion of more higher value homes.

Comparison of Home Price Indices - Case-Shiller 3 Month Average (blue line, left axis), CoreLogic (green line, left axis) and National Association of Realtors 3 Month Average (red line, right axis)

z existing3.PNG

The way to understand the dynamics of home prices is to watch the direction of the rate of change. Here home price growth generally appears to be stabilizing (rate of growth not rising or falling).

Year-over-Year Price Change Home Price Indices - Case-Shiller 3 Month Average (blue bar), CoreLogic (yellow bar) and National Association of Realtors 3 Month Average (red bar)

z existing5.PNG

There are some differences between the indices on the rate of "recovery" of home prices.

A synopsis of Authors of the Leading Indices:

Case Shiller's David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices:

Home prices continue to rise across the country, but the pace is not accelerating. Moreover, consumer expectations are consistent with the current pace of price increases. A recent national survey published by the New York Fed showed the average expected price increase among both owners and renters is 4.1%. Both the current rate of home price increases and the consumers' expectations are a bit lower than the long term annual price change of 4.9% since 1975. These figures, however, do not adjust for inflation. The real, or inflation adjusted, price change since 1975 is one percent per year. Given the current inflation rate of under two percent, real home prices today are rising more quickly than is typical. The three out of five consumers in the survey who see home ownership as a good or somewhat good investment may be thinking in real terms.

Recent housing data is positive. Sales of new and existing homes are rising in recent reports and construction of new homes enjoyed strong gains in May. At the same time, the proportion of new construction that is apartments rather than single family homes remains high. In the past year, 34% of housing starts were apartments, compared to 22% on average since 1975. One aspect of this may be condominiums. Separately, S&P Dow Jones Indices reports the S&P/Case-Shiller Condo Price indices for Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and New York. In all but LA, condo prices are rising faster than single family homes.

CoreLogic believes strong home price increases are coming (April Data). Per Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic and Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic:

For the first four months of 2015, home sales were up 9 percent compared to the same period a year ago. One byproduct of the increased sales activity is rising house prices, and, as a result, month-over-month home prices are up almost 3 percent for April 2015 and up more than 6 percent from a year ago.

Old fashion supply and demand, fueled by historically low mortgage rates and improving consumer finances and confidence, continue to push home prices up. We expect continued price appreciation throughout 2015 and into next year. Over the longer term, household formation, up by more than one million over the past year alone, will drive down vacancy rates and create tighter housing markets in many metropolitan areas. This should provide the necessary underpinning for rising prices for the foreseeable future.

The National Association of Realtors says home sales growth for Spring is much improved (May 2015 data):

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says May home sales rebounded strongly following April's decline and are now at their highest pace since November 2009 (5.44 million). "Solid sales gains were seen throughout the country in May as more homeowners listed their home for sale and therefore provided greater choices for buyers," he said. "However, overall supply still remains tight, homes are selling fast and price growth in many markets continues to teeter at or near double-digit appreciation. Without solid gains in new home construction, prices will likely stay elevated — even with higher mortgage rates above 4 percent."

The return of first-time buyers in May is an encouraging sign and is the result of multiple factors, including strong job gains among young adults, less expensive mortgage insurance and lenders offering low downpayment programs," said Yun. "More first-time buyers are expected to enter the market in coming months, but the overall share climbing higher will depend on how fast rates and prices rise."

NAR President Chris Polychron says Realtors® overwhelmingly support the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's proposal of a two-month delay for the implementation of the new Truth in Lending Act and Real EstateSettlement Procedures Act Integrated Disclosure, or TRID, regulation. "NAR has long advocated the need to avoid implementing the new regulation during the peak buying season," he said. "With interest rates on the rise, many families wanting to buy are looking to lock-in at current rates and move into their new home before the school year starts. Holding off on TRID implementation through the summer helps these buyers avoid any disruption or delays in closings that could develop once the regulation goes into effect."

Black Knight Financial Services (formerly known as Lender Processing Services) April 2015 home price index up 1.0% for the Month; Up 4.9% Year-over-Year.

Econintersect publishes knowledgeable views of the housing market.

Caveats on the Use of Home Price Indices

The housing price decline seen since 2005 varies by zip code - and seems to have ended somewhere around the beginning of the 2Q2012. Every area of the country has differing characteristics. Since January 2006, the housing declines in Charlotte and Denver are well less than 10%, while Las Vegas home prices had declined almost 60%.

Each home price index uses a different methodology - and this creates slightly different answers. There is some evidence in various home price indices that home prices are beginning to stabilize - the evidence is also in this post. Please see the post Economic Headwinds from Real Estate Moderate.

The most broadly based index is the US Federal Housing Finance Agency's House Price Index (HPI) - a quarterly broad measure of the movement of single-family house prices. This index is a weighted, repeat-sales index on the same properties in 363 metro centers, compared to the 20 cities Case-Shiller.

The US Federal Housing Finance Agency also has an index (HPIPONM226S) based on 6,000,000 same home sales - a much broader index than Case-Shiller. Also, there is a big difference between home prices and owner's equity (OEHRENWBSHNO) which has been included on the graph below.

Comparing Various Home Price Indices to Owner's Equity (blue line)

With rents increasing and home prices declining - the affordability factor favoring rental vs owning is reversing. Rising rents are shifting the balance.

Price to Rent Ratio - Indexed on January 2000 - Based on Case-Shiller 20 cities index ratio to CPI Rent Index

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