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posted on 31 October 2017

Case-Shiller 20 City Home Price Index August 2017 Now at 5.9 % 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 grew from 5.8 % to 5.9%. The index authors stated "Home price increases appear to be unstoppable .... Most prices across the rest of the economy are barely moving compared to housing."

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. It should be noted that the rate of year-over-year increased peaked in February 2017 at 5.92 %, and has declined every month since until this month and is currently at 5.92 %.

  • 20 city unadjusted home price rate of growth grew 0.1 % 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 0.2 % to 0.6 % 0.5 % +0.5 %
20-city, NSA - M/M 0.6 % to 0.8 % 0.6 % +0.4 %
20-city, NSA - Yr/Yr 5.7 % to 6.3 % 6.0 % +5.9 %

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 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:

Home price increases appear to be unstoppable. August saw the National Index annual rate tick up to 6.1%; all 20 cities followed in the report were up year-over-year while one, Atlanta, saw the seasonally adjusted monthly number slip 0.2%. Most prices across the rest of the economy are barely moving compared to housing. Over the last year the consumer price index rose 2.2%, driven largely by energy costs. Aside from oil, the only other major item with price gains close to housing was hospital services, which were up 4.6%. Wages climbed 3.6% in the year to August.

While home prices continue to rise, other housing indicators may be leveling off. Sales of both new and existing homes have slipped since last March. The Builders Sentiment Index published by the National Association of Home Builders also leveled off after March. Automobiles are the second largest consumer purchase most people make after houses. Auto sales peaked last November and have been flat to slightly lower since. The housing market will face two contradicting challenges during the rest of 2017 and into 2018. First, rebuilding following hurricanes across Texas, Florida and other parts of the south will lead to further supply pressures. Second, the Fed's recent move to shrink its balance sheet could push mortgage rates upward.

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

While growth in home sales has stalled due to a lack of inventory during the last few months, the tight inventory has actually helped stabilize price growth. Over the last three years, price growth in the CoreLogic national index has been between 5 percent and 7 percent per year, and CoreLogic expects home prices to increase about 5 percent by this time next year.

Nearly half of the nation's largest 50 markets are overvalued. The lack of real estate affordability has spread beyond the typically expensive coasts into the interior of the nation, hitting cities such as Denver, Nashville, Austin and Dallas.

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

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says closings mustered a meager gain in September, but declined on an annual basis for the first time in over a year (July 2016; 2.2 percent). "Home sales in recent months remain at their lowest level of the year and are unable to break through, despite considerable buyer interest in most parts of the country," he said. "Realtors® this fall continue to say the primary impediments stifling sales growth are the same as they have been all year: not enough listings - especially at the lower end of the market - and fast-rising prices that are straining the budgets of prospective buyers."

Added Yun, "Sales activity likely would have been somewhat stronger if not for the fact that parts of Texas and South Florida - hit by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma - saw temporary, but notable declines."

"A continuation of last month's alleviating price growth, which was the slowest since last December (4.5 percent), would improve affordability conditions and be good news for the would-be buyers who have been held back by higher prices this year," said Yun.

"Nearly two-thirds of renters currently believe now is a good time to buy a home, but weakening affordability and few choices in their price range have made it really difficult for more aspiring first-time buyers to reach the market," said Yun.

President William E. Brown says Congress should keep in mind the barriers affecting prospective first-time buyers as they move forward with tax reform in the coming months.

"There's no way around the fact that any proposal that marginalizes the mortgage interest deduction and eliminates state and local tax deductions essentially disincentives homeownership and is a potential tax hike on millions of middle-class homeowners," said Brown. "Reforming the tax code is a worthy goal, but it should not lead to the middle class, who primarily build wealth through owning a home, footing the bill. Instead, Congress should be looking at ways to ensure more creditworthy prospective buyers are able to achieve homeownership and enjoy its personal and wealth-building benefits."

Black Knight Financial Services (formerly known as Lender Processing Services) July 2017 home price index Up 0.2 Percent for the Month; Up 6.2 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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