Sustained Recovery in Home Prices: S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices

NEW YORK, Dec. 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Data through October 2012, released by S&P Dow Jones Indices for its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices,  showed home prices rose 4.3 percent in the 12 months ending in October in the 20-City Composite, out-distancing analysts' forecasts. Anticipated seasonal weakness appeared as twelve of the 20 cities and both Composites posted monthly declines in home prices in October.

The 10- and 20-City Composites recorded respective annual returns of +3.4 percent and +4.3 percent in October 2012 – larger than the +2.1 percent and +3.0 percent annual rates posted for September 2012. In nineteen of the 20 cities, annual returns in October were higher than September.  Chicago and New York were the only two cities with negative annual returns in October. Phoenix home prices rose for the 13th month in a row. San Diego was second best with nine consecutive monthly gains.

In October 2012, the 10- and 20-City Composites recorded respective annual increases of 3.4 percent and 4.3 percent, and monthly declines of 0.1 percent each.

"The October monthly numbers were weaker than September as 12 cities saw prices drop compared to seven the month before," says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. "The five which turned down in October but not in September, were Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, Minneapolis and Seattle. Among all 20 cities, Chicago was the weakest with prices dropping 1.5 percent, followed by Boston where prices fell 1.4 percent. Las Vegas saw the strongest one-month gain with prices up 2.8 percent. 

"Annual rates of change in home prices are a better indicator of the performance of the housing market than the month-over-month changes because home prices tend to be lower in fall and winter than in spring and summer. Both the 10- and 20-City Composites and 19 of 20 cities recorded higher annual returns in October 2012 than in September. The impact of the seasons can also be seen in the seasonally adjusted data where only three cities declined month-to-month.  The 10-City Composite annual rate of +3.4 percent in October was lower than the 20-City Composite annual figure of +4.3 percent because the two weaker cities – Chicago and New York – have higher weights in the 10-City Composite.

"Looking over this report, and considering other data on housing starts and sales, it is clear that the housing recovery is gathering strength. Higher year-over-year price gains plus strong performances in the southwest and California, regions that suffered during the housing bust, confirm that housing is now contributing to the economy.  Last week's final revision to third quarter GDP growth showed that housing represented 10 percent of the growth while accounting for less than 3 percent of GDP.

"One indication of the rebound is the gains from the bottom.  The largest rebound is 24.2 percent in Detroit even though prices there are still about 20 percent lower than 12 years ago.  San Francisco and Phoenix have also rebounded from recent lows by 22.5 percent and 22.1 percent with prices comfortably higher than 12 years ago.  The smallest recoveries are seen in Boston and New York, two cities in the northeast which suffered smaller losses in the housing bust than the Sunbelt or California."

As of October 2012, average home prices across the United States are back to their autumn 2003 levels for both the 10-City and 20-City Composites. Measured from their June/July 2006 peaks, the decline for both Composites is approximately 30 percent through October 2012 and approximately 35 percent from the June/July 2006 peak values to their recent lows in early 2012. The October 2012 levels for both Composites are about 8.4 to 9 percent above their early 2012 lows.

In October 2012, 12 MSAs and both Composites posted negative month-over-month returns. Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego and San Francisco were the only seven cities that recorded positive monthly returns.  Denver remained flat.

After 22 consecutive months, the Las Vegas index, at 100.14, finally recovered to a level above its January 2000 figure. Atlanta and Detroit remain the only two cities with average home prices below their January 2000 levels.