Tuesday, September 29, 2009

House Prices: Stress Test and Price-to-Rent

by Bill McBride on 9/29/2009 12:56:00 PM

This following graph compares the Case-Shiller Composite 10 SA index with the Stress Test scenarios from the Treasury (stress test data is estimated from quarterly forecasts).

Case-Shiller Stress Test Comparison The Stress Test scenarios use the Composite 10 index and start in December. Here are the numbers:

Case-Shiller Composite 10 Index (SA), July: 154.69

Stress Test Baseline Scenario, July: 147.23

Stress Test More Adverse Scenario, July: 138.14

Unlike with the unemployment rate (worse than both scenarios), house prices are performing better than the the stress test scenarios.

Price-to-Rent

In October 2004, Fed economist John Krainer and researcher Chishen Wei wrote a Fed letter on price to rent ratios: House Prices and Fundamental Value. Kainer and Wei presented a price-to-rent ratio using the OFHEO house price index and the Owners' Equivalent Rent (OER) from the BLS.

Here is a similar graph through July 2009 using the Case-Shiller Composite Indices (SA):

Price-to-Rent Ratio Click on image for larger graph in new window.

This graph shows the price to rent ratio (January 2000 = 1.0) for the Case-Shiller composite indices. For rents, the national Owners' Equivalent Rent from the BLS is used.

Back in 2004 or 2005, it was obvious that prices were out of line with fundamentals. This was clear in the price-to-income and price-to-rent ratios - and there was also widespread speculation (the definition of a bubble).

Now, looking at the price-to-rent ratio based on the Case-Shiller indices, the adjustment in the price-to-rent ratio is mostly behind us. Although the ratio is still a little high. Note: some would argue the ratio being a little too high is reasonable based on mortgage rates and "affordability".

With rents now falling almost everywhere, a further downward adjustment in house prices seems likely.

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