Standard & Poors released its Case-Shiller Index Tuesday. The index is a monthly home valuation report from select cities and among the private sector’s most popular home pricing models.
In reviewing the April Case-Shiller Index and its accompanying analysis, it appears that the housing market’s rebound is gathering momentum.
In the index’s 20 tracked cities:
- 18 of 20 improved from March to April 2010
- Versus April 2009, home prices are up nearly 4 percent
- The two “down” cities from April — Miami and New York — are off just 0.5% and 1.0% annually, respectively
Furthermore, as another sign of strength, San Diego, a city in which homeowners have lost a lot of equity since 2007, has now shown 12 straight months of home price improvement.
However, the Case-Shiller Index must be kept in context. It’s far from perfect.
For one, the index reports on a 60-day delay; it’s only now showing data from the end of April, when the federal homebuyer tax credit was expiring. Home sales have been weak since then it’s been reported.
And second, the Case-Shiller Index is limited to just 20 cities nationwide. Therefore, the index doesn’t consider every home sale in every American city — it only considers a select few. Many more U.S. homes are excluded from the Case-Shiller Index than are included.
But, despite its flaws, the Case-Shiller Index remains important with respect to economic analysis. Much like the government’s Home Price Index, Case-Shiller helps to identify broader trends in housing that shape government and monetary policy.
Earlier this week, Standard & Poors released its February Case-Shiller Index, a home price tracker for select metropolitan areas.
Overwhelmingly, home values fell in the 20 markets tracked by the Case-Shiller. Only San Diego showed a modest increase. The other 19 markets averaged a 1.23 percent decline between January and February.
However, that’s not the story you read in the most papers. Instead, headlines read that home values were up in the United States, citing annualized data.
Unfortunately for active home buyers and sellers, year-over-year data isn’t all that helpful when making a real estate decisions. It’s the month-to-month data that matters. Month-to-month changes in home prices are what defines a housing market. Month-to-month is what sets the tone for contracts and negotiations on a purchase.
The rosier, annualized data published this past week just doesn’t capture the reality of what was the February 2010 market. And even then, the data is somewhat useless because it’s from February and May will be upon us next week.
Case-Shiller is on a 2-month lag — hardly reflective of the “right now” of real estate in Fort Lee.
When you’re looking for real estate data that actionable, consider using sources that are more “real-time”. A real estate agent may be the right place to start. Because for all the data that Case-Shiller and the other housing indices collect, it can never be as relevant to your individual needs as a well-executed, timely market analysis.
Standard & Poors released its Case-Shiller Index Wednesday. The report shows that, on a seasonally-adjusted basis, between December and January, home prices rose in more than half of the index’s tracked markets.
The strength of this month’s Case-Shiller report, however, should be put in context.
For one, the report is on a 2-month delay; it’s showing data from January, before the start of the Spring Buying Season and before the rush to beat the tax credit. Anecdotally, buyer interest has been strong since, leading to the types of multiple offer situations that drive home prices northward.
In other words, home values may be even higher than what’s reflected in the January Case-Shiller data above.
Furthermore, the Case-Shiller Index measures home values in just 20 cities nationwide and they’re not even the 20 biggest cities. Houston, Philadelphia, San Antonio and San Jose are specifically excluded from the report and each ranks among the country’s 10 most populous areas.
Despite its flaws, though, the Case-Shiller Index remains important. Much like the government’s Home Price Index, the private-sector report helps to finger broad housing trends and housing is still considered a keystone in the U.S. economic recovery.
Even if it’s two months slow.