Case-Shiller Home Prices Strong Growth Continues in January 2012

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The non-seasonally adjusted Case-Shiller home price index (20 cities) for January 2013 (released today) showed the eighth year-over-year gain in housing prices since the end of the housing stimulus in 2010.

  • Non-seasonally adjusted home prices rose 1.2% month-to-month – which any rise between between December to January is unusual.
  • Home prices increased year-over-year 8.1% (versus 6.8% in December).
  • The market had expected a year-over-year increase 7.5% (versus the 8.1% reported)

Case-Shiller home price index has shown year-over-year price improvement for the last eight months. The National Association of Realtors and CoreLogic have reported year-over-year home price gains since April 2012. Note the caveats section at the end of this post.

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 (red line, right axis)

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The way to understand the dynamics of home prices is to watch the direction of the rate of change – and not necessarily whether the prices are getting better or worse. Here almost universally – home prices are either improving or becoming less bad – with the National Association of Realtors home prices currently showing the largest price gains.

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

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There are some differences between the indices on the rate of “recovery” of home prices. However, the trend for over a year has been an improving home market

A synopsis of Authors of the Leading Indices:

Case Shiller’s David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices, sees a strengthening housing market.

“The two headline composites posted their highest year-over-year increases since summer 2006. This marks the highest increase since the housing bubble burst.

After more than two years of consecutive year-over-year declines, New York reversed trend and posted a positive return in January. The Southwest (Phoenix and Las Vegas) plus San Francisco posted the highest annual increases; they were also among the hardest hit by the housing bust. Atlanta and Dallas recorded their highest year-over-year gains.

Economic data continues to support the housing recovery. Single-family home building permits and housing starts posted double-digit year-over-year increases in February 2013. Despite a slight uptick in foreclosure filings, numbers are still down 25% year-over-year. Steady employment and low borrowing rates pushed inventories down to their lowest post-recession levels.

CoreLogic suggests home prices will continue to recover (December Data). Per Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic:

“The HPI showed strong growth during the typically slow winter season. With these gains, the housing market is poised to enter the spring selling season on sound footing. The improvements are materializing across the country, with all but Delaware and Illinois showing increasing HPI and 15 states within 10 percent of their peak values.”

Excluding distressed sales, home prices increased on a year-over-year basis by 9.0 percent in January 2013 compared to January 2012. On a month-over-month basis, excluding distressed sales, home prices increased 1.8 percent in January 2013 compared to December 2012. Distressed sales include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions.

The CoreLogic Pending HPI indicates that February 2013 home prices, including distressed sales, are expected to rise by 9.7 percent on a year-over-year basis from February 2012 and fall by 0.3 percent on a month-over-month basis from January 2013, reflecting a seasonal winter slowdown. Excluding distressed sales, February 2013 home prices are poised to rise 11.3 percent year over year from February 2012 and by 1.8 percent month over month from January 2013. The CoreLogic Pending HPI is a proprietary and exclusive metric that provides the most current indication of trends in home prices. It is based on Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data that measure price changes for the most recent month.

The National Association of Realtors believes the market could be better if there was more homes for sale (February 2013 data).  Per Lawrence Yun , NAR chief economist:

Conditions for continued housing improvement are at play. “Job growth in the improving economy and pent-up demand are causing both home sales and rental leasing to rise. Though home prices are rising much faster than rents, historically low mortgage rates are still making home purchases affordable. The only headwinds are limited housing inventory, which varies greatly around the country, and credit conditions that remain too restrictive.

Homes are selling faster. The typical home is selling nearly four weeks faster than it did a year ago. In this environment, Realtors® can help buyers strike a balance between moving quickly and protecting their interests, such as making offers contingent upon a satisfactory home inspection and obtaining a loan; of course, a loan pre-qualification may help too.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $173,600 in February, up 11.6 percent from February 2012. The last time there were 12 consecutive months of year-over-year price increases was from June 2005 to May 2006. The February gain is the strongest since November 2005 when it was 12.9 percent above a year earlier.

Lender Processing Services (LPS) January 2013 home price index rose 0.3% month-over-month and 6.7% 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)

Recent review of the Fed 2011 stress tests for banks has a new recession scenario that would see home prices decline another 20% from here. It is unlikely that the attempts to complete a bottom here could hold under those conditions.

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

Related Articles

All Analysis Blog Articles on Housing Sales and Prices

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