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posted on 27 June 2017

Case-Shiller 20 City Home Price Index April 2017 Shows 5.7 % Year-over-Year Growth

Written by Steven Hansen

The non-seasonally adjusted Case-Shiller home price index (20 cities) year-over-year rate of home price growth was declined from 5.9 % to 5.7 %. The index authors stated "Since demand is exceeding supply and financing is available, there is nothing right now to keep prices from going up.".

Analyst Opinion of Case-Shiller HPI

Many pundits believe home prices are back in a bubble. Maybe, but the falling inventory of homes for sale keeps home prices relatively high. I continue to see this a situation of supply and demand. It is the affordability of the homes which is becoming an issue for the lower segments of consumers.

  • 20 city unadjusted home price rate of growth declined 0.2 % month-over-month. [Econintersect uses the change in year-over-year growth from month-to-month to calculate the change in rate of growth]
  • Note that Case-Shiller index is an average of the last three months of data.
  • The market expected:
Consensus Range Consensus Actual
20-city, SA - M/M 0.3 % to 1.0 % 0.6 % +0.3 %
20-city, NSA - M/M +0.9 %
20-city, NSA - Yr/Yr 5.8 % to 6.1 % 5.9 % +5.7 %

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 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 stabilize (rate of growth not rising or falling).

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:

As home prices continue rising faster than inflation, two questions are being asked: why? And, could this be a bubble? Since demand is exceeding supply and financing is available, there is nothing right now to keep prices from going up. The increase in real, or inflation-adjusted, home prices in the last three years shows that demand is rising. At the same time, the supply of homes for sale has barely kept pace with demand and the inventory of new or existing homes for sale shrunk down to only a fourmonth supply. Adding to price pressures, mortgage rates remain close to 4% and affordability is not a significant issue.

The question is not if home prices can climb without any limit; they can't. Rather, will home price gains gently slow or will they crash and take the economy down with them? For the moment, conditions appear favorable for avoiding a crash. Housing starts are trending higher and rising prices may encourage some homeowners to sell. Moreover, mortgage default rates are low and household debt levels are manageable. Total mortgage debt outstanding is $14.4 trillion, about $400 billion below the record set in 2008. Any increase in mortgage interest rates would dampen demand. Household finances should be able to weather a fairly large price drop."

CoreLogic believes low inventories are spurring rising home prices (April 2017 Data). Per Dr Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic and Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic stated:

Mortgage rates in April dipped back to their lowest level since November of last year, spurring home-buying activity. In some metro areas, there has been a bidding frenzy as multiple contracts are placed on a single home. This has led home-price growth to outpace rent gains. Nationally, home prices were up 6.9 percent over the last year, while rent growth for single-family rental homes recorded a 3 percent rise through April, according to the CoreLogic Single-Family Rental Index

Interest rates on fixed-rate mortgages are down by one-fourth of a percentage point since mid-March, just in time to support the spring home-buying season. Some metro areas have low for-sale inventory, short time-on-market trends and homes that sell above the list price. Geographically, gains were strongest in the West with Washington and Utah posting double-digit gains.

The National Association of Realtors says home sales prices continue to increase (May 2017 data):

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says sales activity expanded in May as more buyers overcame the increasingly challenging market conditions prevalent in many areas. "The job market in most of the country is healthy and the recent downward trend in mortgage rates continues to keep buyer interest at a robust level," he said. "Those able to close on a home last month are probably feeling both happy and relieved. Listings in the affordable price range are scarce, homes are coming off the market at an extremely fast pace and the prevalence of multiple offers in some markets are pushing prices higher."

"Home prices keep chugging along at a pace that is not sustainable in the long run," added Yun. "Current demand levels indicate sales should be stronger, but it's clear some would-be buyers are having to delay or postpone their home search because low supply is leading to worsening affordability conditions."

Properties typically stayed on the market for 27 days in May, which is down from 29 days in April and 32 days a year ago; this is the shortest timeframe since NAR began tracking in May 2011. Short sales were on the market the longest at a median of 94 days in May, while foreclosures sold in 48 days and non-distressed homes took 27 days. Fifty-five percent of homes sold in May were on the market for less than a month (a new high).

"With new and existing supply failing to catch up with demand, several markets this summer will continue to see homes going under contract at this remarkably fast pace of under a month," said Yun.

"Of the barriers analyzed in the white paper, single-family housing shortages will be the biggest challenge for prospective first-time buyers this year," said President William E. Brown. "Those hoping to buy an entry-level, single-family home continue to see minimal choices. The best advice for these home shoppers is to know what you can afford, lean on the guidance of a Realtor® and act fast once an ideal property within the budget is listed."

Black Knight Financial Services (formerly known as Lender Processing Services) April 2017 home price index Up 1.2 Percent for the Month; Up 6.0 Percent Year-Over-Year. Note that Black Knight uses the current month closings only (not a three month average like Case-Shiller or a weighted average like CoreLogic), excludes short sales and REOs, and is not seasonally adjusted.

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.

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)

The affordability factor favors rental vs owning.

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



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