Tuesday, December 29, 2009

House Prices: Stress Test, Price-to-Rent, and More

by Bill McBride on 12/29/2009 11:46:00 AM

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 Click on graph for larger image in new window.

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

Case-Shiller Composite 10 Index (SA), October: 157.56

Stress Test Baseline Scenario, October: 142.3

Stress Test More Adverse Scenario, October: 130.6

House prices are 10.7% higher than the baseline scenario, and 20.6% higher than the more adverse scenario.

There were three key economic stress test parameters: house prices, GDP and unemployment. Both house prices and GDP are performing better than the baseline scenario, and unemployment is performing worse than both stress test scenarios.


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 October 2009 using the Case-Shiller Composite Indices (SA):

Price-to-Rent Ratio 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.

At the peak of the housing bubble it was obvious that prices were out of line with fundamentals such as price-to-rent, price-to-income and real prices. Now most of the adjustment in the price-to-rent ratio is behind us.

It appears the ratio is still a little high, and the recent increase was a combination of falling rents and rising house prices (probably due to the massive government intervention). I expect some further decline in prices, although it isn't as obvious as in 2005.

Comparison to LoanPerformance

House Price IndicesAnd finally, here is a graph of the LoanPerformance index (with and without foreclosures) and the Case-Shiller Composite 20 index. Earlier LoanPerformance announced that house prices fell 0.7% in October.

This graph shows the three indices with January 2000 = 100.

The indices mostly move together over time. Notice how the total LoanPerformance index fell further than the index excluding foreclosures - and also rebounded more.

The seasonally adjusted Case-Shiller index increased slightly in October and the LoanPerformance index showed a decline. However Case-Shiller is an average of three months, so there might be a decline next month.