Tuesday, May 03, 2011

U.S. housing prices still falling

Sorry about the lack of blogging over the past two weeks. Here's some of what I missed. The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city index shows U.S. home prices are still falling.
Home prices in February sank 3.3% to just above the post-crisis lows reached in April 2009. It was the seventh straight month of declines.

Home values are down 32% from their peak set in May of 2006, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices in 20 cities.

"There is very little, if any, good news about housing," said David Blitzer, spokesman for S&P. "Prices continue to weaken, trends in sales and construction are disappointing."

The drop has come in two stages. First, the index recorded 36 months of nearly uninterrupted declines after reaching the spring 2006 peak. Then came a 13-month upswing during which the index recorded a 5% gain. That rebound ended last June.

Since then, the index has recorded losses every month and it has now edged closer to a new low — the dreaded double-dip. ...

Economists say the initial rebound after the financial crisis was artificially inflated by government initiatives.

Lawmakers implemented a tax credit for homebuyers. And the Federal Reserve helped keep mortgage rates low.

Also artificially supporting prices at the time was a decrease in the supply of foreclosed properties. That was the result of government loan modification programs, but many foreclosed properties have again come back to market.


  1. James - regarding that article, it appears you left out the single most important piece of data to the large plurality of your readers in the DC area:

    "Of the 20 housing markets covered by the index, only Washington recorded a price increase from last year -- 2.7%."

    I dont know if you are aware of that, but when the CS article comes out every month you have almost always excluded the little blurb that says whats going on here in DC (most of which say prices are rising, in contrast to the rest of the country). Out of curiosity, are you excluding this DC info on purpose?

  2. Secondly, whats your take on why DC continues to go up while the rest of the country measured by Case Shiller continues to struggle? I have my own theories, but I wanted to get your take on it. Thoughts?

  3. Yes I exclude DC on purpose. Case-Shiller news articles generally have a standard structure: First, national data if available (only in February, May, August, & November). Second, 20- & 10-city data. Third, individual city data. Fourth, quotes from experts used as filler. To avoid a wholesale copying of news articles, I try to limit myself to the national data, or if unavailable, the 20- & 10-city data.

    If I include info on cities, I try to include coverage of several cities, rather than just one. I also generally exclude the quotes from experts that journalists use as filler, although I do allow exceptions if I feel an expert's quote is more than just filler. The reason I included the David Blitzer quote above is because it was out of the standard order and I was too lazy to chop it out.

    For the record, in last month's Case-Shiller post, I did include facts about DC (and San Diego), but that was because I was quoting from a press release that didn't follow the standard news article ordering.

  4. Yes I exclude DC on purpose.

    Gotcha. Seems you would want to put more emphasis on the city where you live and where the plurality of your readers are located - especially as that city is doing something unique relative to the rest of the area. Still, to each their own.

  5. Ever since I took over being the primary Bubble Meter blogger, I have gradually tried to get away from being a DC-oriented blog in favor of being a national blog. Although, when you guys complain that I don't do enough DC stuff, I occasionally throw you a bone to keep you happy. I really don't like it.

    By the way, I don't live in DC. I live in Centreville. I almost never blog about Centreville.

  6. The home prices in Tampa Florida have actually been pretty stable for the last 6 months. In the surrounding areas just outside of Tampa, home prices are still falling. Inventory is way down... it's just the bank foreclosures and short sales that are still pulling prices down in areas where there was a lot of new construction back in 2004-2006.

  7. Ok... maybe not 6 months, but as last month's numbers (April 2011), the Tampa Median sold price is up 14.3% from Feb 2011 and the average sales price is up 11.7%. Inventory is definitely way down. Those are signs of a stabilizing market to me. I just hope it continues.

    ... by the way, I would not use Zillow as a data reference because their data is so inaccurate. I have been contacted hundreds of times from Zillow users (because I market listings through Zillow) and have to tell them that the info they are getting from Zillow is wrong and to only use the site as a reference tool.

  8. The price rise you notice, if not fiction like the 6 month claim, is likely due to a change in the mix of housing that is selling, rather than due to individual houses going up in value. The advantage of the Case-Shiller index, which shows nothing but a downtrend in Tampa, is that it tracks the same houses from one sale to another. The data from the national and state Realtors' associations doesn't do that.