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Market News and Trends

Case-Shiller Improvements In Context

 Two articles added to this morning discuss changes and trends in the U.S. real estate industry (Housing Market In Stumble Mode and Home Prices  in U.S. Cities Up 3.8% From Year Earlier).   As I frequently do, I think it is important to provide an Austin/Central Texas perspective since our local and regional market has experienced the housing downturn and recession very differently than the five states where the worst impacts have been felt.

Both focus on today’s report on the Standard & Poor/Case-Shiller index of home values in April 2010 showed the best year-over-year improvement in more than 3 1/2  years.  That index compiles data from 20 cities around the country and provides a point of reference for market watchers.  It does not provide a way to judge the market  performance over time of any one metro area, particularly one like Austin that is not one of the C-S cities.

For example, looking at Austin in isolation and attempting to compare to the reported change in the C-S index, a casual observer would conclude that Austin is in a weaker position than the indexed cities:  the average home price here rose just 1.6% from April 2009 to April 2010, and the median price was essentially unchanged over that  period.  Obviously, that’s worse than 3.8% growth, right?

These charts may change that perception:

Case-Shiller Index GraphC-S Cities Change From Peak Graph

Any discussion of upward market movement must include a reference to “growth from what?”  In the first graph above you can see that the 20-city index in early 2009  was down almost 20% from a year earlier, and down about 35% from the market peak in 2005-2006.   The second chart details how far each of the 20 cities fell from the  market peak.

Compare that situation to this history of the Austin Metro area:

Monthly Change Avg Sale Price - Austin 2005-2010Average Sale Price - Austin 2005-2010

If you are not able to view those graphs above, they are also linked to PDF versions.  Just click the image area to see the related chart.  Either way, what you will note is  that the Austin Metro area has seen some ups and downs in average home prices since 2005, but we have generally stayed within a range of +/- 8%.   Note, too, that the  trend in home values over the past 5-plus years has still been up.  Our winter markets were weaker than usual in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010, but the direction of change  over time is unmistakable.  

Moreover, as I have noted a number of times elsewhere in my blog, the Austin/Central Texas area remains a bright spot in terms of job creation, new company formation,  and net population in-migration.   Two tax incentive programs over the past year have badly distorted real estate market seasonality, so what the summer holds for us is  somewhat uncertain.  My early analysis indicates that home buyers in our area have continued to execute new purchase contracts even since the April 30 expiration of  the last tax credit program, but one or two months does not make a trend.  We will know more in another few weeks.  I will follow developments and update this page, but my Austin Market Dashboard is always available with up to date monthly data as well.

About Bill Morris, Realtor

Many years of business experience (high tech, client service, business organization and start-up, including almost 20 years in real estate) tell me that service is the key to success and I look forward to serving you. I represent both buyers and sellers throughout the Austin metropolitan area, which means first-hand market knowledge is brought to bear on serving your needs. Learn more about my background and experience, my commitment to my clients, my profession, and to the real estate industry at



  1. Pingback: 2010: in review « Bill Morris' Austin Real Estate Blog - January 2, 2011

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