I haven’t commented in quite a while on S&P’s Case Shiller Index of home prices, but news this week makes that appropriate:
This is great news! Not only have all Americans been eager to see a true economic recovery take hold, but most analysts know that a robust U.S. economy depends on a strong housing sector. As I have pointed out many times, the long-term strength of the Austin/Central Texas real estate market relies on a healthy larger economic environment. Good news all around!
As always, though, I feel the need to provide some perspective. In the chart below you can clearly see that peak almost two years ago in the 10-city and 20-city Case Shiller indices, and the recovery in recent years (click to enlarge):
The enormous price bubble that led to the recent crisis is also quite visible. I added Washington, D.C. to this chart because it was the first of the Case Shiller cities that began climbing up from the market bottom in 2009. I added color-matched lines to the chart to help compare the August index levels with the past, and you can see that with the growth in recent months, home prices as measured by Case Shiller are back to where they were in mid-2003 to mid-2004.
The blue lines (dotted and solid) track average sale prices in the Austin area. I did not add any color-matched lines there because our prices never really fell significantly during the crisis we all read and heard so much about in recent years. The 12-month average of home prices dipped about 4% in 2009-2010, but it has been above its August 2008 peak for 11 out of the previous 25 months. (Now 12 of 26 months, counting September 2012.) Clearly, our market prices never came anywhere close to the previous mid-decade levels.
Looking at year-to-year changes in home prices is also helpful in this comparison:
I love roller coasters — recreationally. But the ride the Case Shiller cities experienced over the past few years is nobody’s idea of a good time. I am genuinely encouraged by the trend shown by the Case Shiller indices and I hope and believe that the recovery will gain real traction this time. It’s time all Americans got some good news financially.