Tuesday, September 2, 2008

When I don't Disagree with Case-Schiller's Price Index

Real estate markets are improving for the fourth month in a row

I don't usually like the Case-Shiller Home Price Index because it doesn't include our Metropolitan Statistical Area, and without data from Philadelphia (which is usually better than most parts of the nation) I don't think the study can have validity to us, But even with their poorly weighted (IMHO) information, it seems that we may have hit the bottom of the real estate market in many parts of the country.

According to the June 2008 Case-Shiller Home Price Index, home prices in 15 of the 20 largest U.S. real estate markets either improved, or showed growth from the month prior.

This is the fourth straight month in which that happened which means that a national housing recovery may already be underway.

Now, it's worth stating that all real estate is local and that there's no such thing as a "national real estate market", but for home buyers looking to to maximize their negotiation power to get the best possible "deal", spotting trends like this before the media does is a good thing.

So far, only Bloomberg and a few others have chosen to highlight the positives from the otherwise-negative Case-Shiller report. By contrast, most publishers are focusing on annual home price figures which show a hefty drop of 15.9 percent.

We shouldn't dismiss annual trends because they're helpful in the theoretical sense, but for real, live home buyers trying to identify trends and market bottoms, it's the month-to-month data that matters most.

After looking at 4 consecutive months of Case-Shiller data, the month-to-month data appears to show that home prices have stabilized in most major markets. And, in some, they've already started to recover from their lows.

U.S. House-Price Slide Eases, S&P/Case-Shiller Shows
Courtney Schlisserman
Bloomberg.com, August 26, 2008