Finding the Silver Lining in January’s Case-Shiller Report
The clouds are still hovering, but you can find a silver lining in the Case-Shiller January Home Price Indices Report because while home prices are still falling in most metropolitan areas, they are falling at a slower pace. Bloomberg News donned their rose colored glasses as well in one of their Case-Shiller articles pointing out that while we indeed have a long way to go, property values are beginning to steady, and the outlook is a little less negative. As reported in the Huffington Post today, February’s consumer confidence numbers were the highest in over a year, and the just released March consumer confidence data is on par with February’s showing consumers’ resilience and upbeat outlook despite economic mixed signals.
Like the Steamboat Springs’ February Market Report, the January Case-Shiller report had its good news and as I prefer to think of it “work-in- progress” news.
January Case-Shiller Positives
* While both the 10-City and 20-City composites were down -0.8% in January ’12 vs. December ’11 that’s better than the -1.2% and -1.1% they were down respectively when comparing December ’11 vs. November ’11.
* Washington DC, Miami and Phoenix all showed price gains in their markets versus December.
* Denver, Detroit and Phoenix were the three metropolitan areas who posted positive annual gains.
January Case-Shiller Work-In-Progress Areas
* Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit and Las Vegas continue to have average home prices below their January 2000 levels.
* Atlanta had the lowest annual growth rate (-14.8%) as well as the only double digit negative annual growth rate.
* Both the 10-City and 20-City composites are at all time lows and are 34.4% off their relative 2006 peaks.
It might seem like the work-in-progress areas outweigh the positives, but there are other metrics at play that point to the fact that things are getting better:
* The National Association of Realtors (NAR) just released the February Pending Home Sales report, and while noting they were slightly down (-0.5%) from January, they were 9.2% higher than February 2011.
* The National Association of Realtors also reported last week that while February’s Existing Home Sales slipped (-0.9%) from January, they were still 8.8% higher than February 2011.
* Finally, there’s something to be said for stability over time and getting back on track to levels that historically provide a market with confidence and balance. The latest Case-Shiller report shows the 20-City composite is currently indexed at 135.46. As you’ll see in the chart below, when adjusted for inflation, since 1890, our home prices have remained in a relative band width between 125 & 150, so if we’re beginning to stabilize around 135, that’s actually an encouraging indicator.
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