Case-Shiller Home Prices Rise Above Expectations in August 2013

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The non-seasonally adjusted Case-Shiller home price index (20 cities) for August 2013 (released today) showed the 15th consecutive monthly year-over-year gain in housing prices since the end of the housing stimulus in 2010.

  • Home price rate of growth accelerated 1.3% month-over-month.
  • Home prices increased 12.8% year-over-year.
  • The market had expected a year-over-year increase of 12.4% to 12.5% (versus the 12.8% reported).
  • Case-Shiller is now showing the highest year-over-year home price gains of any home price index.

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)

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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 Case Shiller and CoreLogic 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 3 Month Average (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 slowing of pace.

The 10-City and 20-City Composites posted a 12.8% annual growth rate. Both Composites showed their highest annual increases since February 2006. All 20 cities reported positive year-over-year returns. Thirteen cities posted double-digit annual gains. Las Vegas and California continue to impress with year-over-year increases of over 20%. Denver and Phoenix posted 20 consecutive annual increases; Miami and Minneapolis 19. Despite showing 26 consecutive annual gains, Detroit remains the only city below its January 2000 index level.

The monthly percentage changes for the 20-City composite show the peak rate of gain in home prices was last April. Since then home prices continued to rise, but at a slower pace each month. This month 16 cities reported smaller gains in August compared to July. Recent increases in mortgage rates and fewer mortgage applications are two factors in these shifts.

Denver and Dallas again set new highs. All the other cities remain below their peaks. Boston and Charlotte are the two MSAs closest to their peaks with only 8-9% left to go. Las Vegas is still down 47.1% from its peak level.

CoreLogic suggests home price recovery will slow (August Data). Per Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic:

While prices increased more than 12 percent on a year-over-year basis, the month-to-month change is more telling of this year’s late summer trend.

After a strong run, the rate of home price appreciation slowed in August. In addition to normal seasonality, the recent sharp rise in mortgage rates off their historic lows was a clear driver behind the slowdown. We anticipate moderate gains in home prices over the balance of this year, supported by the recent downward trend in rates and continued tight supplies of homes in many markets.

The National Association of Realtors believes the market has peaked (September 2013 data). Per Lawrence Yun , NAR chief economist:

Affordability has fallen to a five-year low as home price increases easily outpaced income growth. Expected rising mortgage interest rates will further lower affordability in upcoming months.  Next month we may see some delays associated with the government shutdown.

Lender Processing Services (LPS) August 2013 home price index up 0.4% for the Month; Up 9.0% 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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