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posted on 25 August 2015

Case-Shiller Home Price Index June 2015 Shows Stable Home Prices

Written by Steven Hansen

The non-seasonally adjusted Case-Shiller home price index (20 cities) year-over-year rate of home price growth was 5.0% (statistically unchanged from last month). The authors of the index say: " Two possible clouds on the horizon are a possible Fed rate increase and volatility in the stock market".

  • 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 6.3%.
  • The market expected:
Consensus Range Consensus Actual
20-city, SA - M/M -0.1 % to 0.7 % 0.1 % -0.1 %
20-city, NSA - M/M 0.6 % to 1.2 % 1.1 % 1.0 %
20-city, NSA - Y/Y 5.0 % to 5.3 % 5.2 % +5.0 %

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:

Nationally, home prices continue to rise at a 4-5% annual rate, two to three times the rate of inflation. While prices in San Francisco and Denver are rising far faster than those in Washington DC, New York, or Cleveland, the city-to-city price patterns are little changed in the last year. Washington saw the smallest year-over-year gains in five of the last six months; San Francisco and Denver ranked either first or second of all cities in the last five months. The price gains have been consistent as the unemployment rate declined with steady inflation and an unchanged Fed policy.

The missing piece in the housing picture has been housing starts and sales. These have changed for the better in the last few months. Sales of existing homes reached 5.6 million at annual rates in July, the strongest figure since 2007. Housing starts topped 1.2 million units at annual rates with almost two-thirds of the total in single family homes. Sales of new homes are also trending higher. These data point to a stronger housing sector to support the economy. Two possible clouds on the horizon are a possible Fed rate increase and volatility in the stock market. A one quarter-point increase in the Fed funds rate won't derail housing. However, if the Fed were to quickly follow that initial move with one or two more rate increases, housing and home prices might suffer. A stock market correction is unlikely to do much damage to the housing market; a full blown bear market dropping more than 20% would present some difficulties for housing and for other economic sectors

CoreLogic believes low inventories are spurring rising home prices (June Data). Per Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic and Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic:

The tightness of the for-sale inventory varies across cities. Throughout the U.S., the months' supply was 4.8 months in the CoreLogic home-listing data for June, but varied greatly across cities. In San Jose and Denver, there was only 1.6 months' supply of homes on the market, whereas Philadelphia had a 7 months' supply and Providence had a 6.6 months' supply,. The stronger appreciation was registered in cities with limited inventory and strong homebuyer activity, such as San Jose and Denver.

The National Association of Realtors says home sales growth is improved (July 2015 data):

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the increase in sales in July solidifies what has been an impressive growth in activity during this year's peak buying season. "The creation of jobs added at a steady clip and the prospect of higher mortgage rates and home prices down the road is encouraging more households to buy now," he said. "As a result, current homeowners are using their increasing housing equity towards the downpayment on their next purchase."

"Despite the strong growth in sales since this spring, declining affordability could begin to slowly dampen demand," adds Yun. "Realtors® in some markets reported slower foot traffic in July in part because of low inventory and concerns about the continued rise in home prices without commensurate income gains."

"The fact that first-time buyers represented a lower share of the market compared to a year ago even though sales are considerably higher is indicative of the challenges many young adults continue to face," adds Yun. "Rising rents and flat wage growth make it difficult for many to save for a downpayment, and the dearth of supply in affordable price ranges is limiting their options."

NAR President Chris Polychron says the housing market is in a much better place and has come a long way since the depths of the recession. "Five years ago, distressed sales represented 33 percent of the market in July," he said. "For many previously distressed homeowners throughout the country, rising home values in recent years have helped recover equity and the vast improvement in several local job markets means fewer are falling behind on their mortgage payments."

Black Knight Financial Services (formerly known as Lender Processing Services) June 2015 home price index up 0.9% for the Month; Up 5.1% 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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