I have posted several comparisons of the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index to home price trends in the Austin/Central Texas market. (Most recent comments: Housing Bubble? Austin compared to Case-Shiller cities, 01/30/11; How Does Texas stack up in the Case-Shiller report?, 02/23/11; and Case-Shiller Update — Keep an eye on Austin, 03/30/11). The latest Case-Shiller report in April added one more month’s data and not much new insight, but several articles this week that focused on an assessment by Zillow that the Housing Crash Is Getting Worse prompt me to comment again on “the Austin difference.”
First, regarding the latest Case-Shiller indices, Austin continues to buck the trend:
As I pointed out in the latest edition of my Austin Market Dashboard, despite significant month-to-month variations in average home prices the 12-month rolling average price in our area has continued to trend upward.
In strong contrast to all Case-Shiller cities, home values in the Austin area have increased year-over-year in 14 of the last 17 months:
That chart picks up the story of the housing downturn from about three months after the bottom of the market cycle. In this data I do NOT see support for Zillow’s statement that home prices are falling at the fastest rate since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in late 2008, but it is clear that the Case-Shiller indices and Dallas have been losing ground again since last October. Austin, on the other hand shows positive growth in all but one month during that period. Also note that even at the market bottom, when the Case-Shiller indices were showing annual declines in the 30% to 40% range, Austin prices were declining at a much lower rate of 5% to 8%.
Finally, one more chart zooms out to encompass the entire housing downturn from near the top of the bubble, still depicting year-over-year changes in home values:
That view dramatically contrasts Austin’s (and Dallas’) market performance from the Case-Shiller indices.
To my frequent readers who find me belaboring this point, I apologize. But when I see reports like those this week about how weak home prices are I feel the need to remind Austin/Central Texas consumers that we really are different. Renewed strength in other major metropolitan areas will obviously help us too, but so far the sky isn’t falling here.